LGBTQ rights and homophobia in Northern Ireland


This video says about itself:

Thousands of revelers lined the route of the 2012 Gay Pride Parade in Belfast on Saturday, August 4, as floats featuring performers of all kinds brought a party atmosphere to the Northern Irish capital. The sun, surprisingly, also made an appearance.

By Annette Pryce:

Hard won LGBT+ rights missing in Northern Ireland

Monday 28th March 2016

A National Union of Teachers delegation to the six counties in February was shocked by the state of affairs, writes Annette Pryce

EQUAL marriage, the repeal of Section 28, adoption, equal age of consent, the Equality Act are all things we as LGBT+ people, as trade unionists, fought long and hard for and feel very proud of. The LGBT+ legislative strategy seems all but complete if you ignore survivor pensions, (don’t ignore that), and a few other important things.

But while we’ve won these rights in Britain, in Northern Irealnd they’re almost totally absent.

When our delegation of 14 NUT LGBT+ teachers arrived in Belfast for our four-day trip we didn’t know what to expect. Growing up hearing about “the Troubles” doesn’t make for a lived experience or a good understanding about what Northern Ireland is like.

Our first meeting with the LGBT+ organisation the Rainbow Project was a crash course in Northern Ireland politics.

Delegates, with their mouths gaping open in shock, demonstrated that our ignorance was just as shocking as the terrible, fragile reality being laid before us.

Despite a clear majority of parties agreeing on equal marriage — and let’s face it, a public that isn’t opposed to the idea — the Democratic Unionist Party use what are supposed to be exceptional veto powers to prevent equal marriage proposals and anything progressively LGBT+ from happening.

Civil partnerships are legal in Northern Ireland — because the Assembly was suspended when the 2004 Civil Partnership Act was passed in Westminster — but there are no equal marriage rights and if you and a same-sex partner got married in Britain, it would not be recognised in Northern Ireland.

But marriage isn’t the most important recognition a state can give you and our delegation wanted to understand what the experience was like for LGBT+ children, teenagers and adults.

With the highest rate of LGBT suicide in the UK, the Rainbow Project told us that 40 per cent of their young service-users had attempted suicide. It was a startling statistic that even with my years of activism and teaching stunned me. “Isolation” was cited as one of the key elements to the statistics as well as school-based bullying.

We headed over to Stormont’s Department of Education to better understand what was being done to protect young LGBT+ people and teachers and received yet more bad news. The department is powerless to intervene in school provision of sex and relationship education and given that every school in Northern Ireland is a faith-based school that often means such education is utterly inadequate, making LGBT+ people invisible.

When we asked the department about protections for LGBT+ teachers we were told that they “didn’t look at the teacher element.” Given this was a room full of LGBT+ teachers you can imagine the cold reception.

There is no Equality Act and therefore no employment protections for LGBT+ teachers except for the vague section 75 of the 1998 Northern Ireland Act. And as for school governors, they have one member of the local clergy on each board and an appointments commission that openly LGBT+ people would have zero faith in.

There was some good movement on bullying in schools and it was demonstrated that recording and intervention programmes were being prioritised and promoted by the Education Minister.

We met our sister unions the Ulster Teachers Union and the Irish National Teachers Organisation to show some solidarity and to hear their take and what their organisations were doing in terms of organising LGBT+ teachers.

It was fantastic and inspiring to hear their efforts to challenge homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in the education system. We provided messages of support and promised to keep a channel open to work together and exchange best practice on organising LGBT+ teachers.

One beacon of hope was former Communication Workers Union official Chris Hudson, now a reverend at the Unitarian All Souls Church in Belfast. Chris’s church not just openly welcomes LGBT+ people of faith and refugees, it campaigns publicly for their rights. The church hosted us for an evening and lesbian congregation members performed music for us. It was a special moment after a bleak day for our delegation.

There is of course hope in Northern Ireland, with organisations like the Rainbow Project, teachers’ unions, churches like All Souls and the supportive and active spaces that are emerging for LGBT+ people. But the one hope that blew us all away was the irrefutable fact that out of all the parade marches that take place in Northern Ireland, the LGBT+ Pride parade was the largest.

Imagine, a place that has structural segregation and limited protections for LGBT+ people, the largest unifying demonstration is an LGBT+ rights march. That gives us all hope and that’s why our continuing support and solidarity towards our fellow LGBT+ teachers in Northern Ireland means so much.

Annette Pryce is the NUT LGBT executive member.

What is wildlife crime?


Wildlife crime

This picture is part of a governmental publication in Northern Ireland; about what they consider to be wildlife crime.

Breeding shorebirds in Northern Ireland, new study


This video is called Eurasian curlew (Numenius arquata) (with northern lapwings in the background).

From Bird Study:

Population estimates and changes in abundance of breeding waders in Northern Ireland up to 2013

3 July 2015

Abstract

Capsule: The third survey of breeding waders in Northern Ireland showed large declines in the abundance of Eurasian Curlew, Northern Lapwing and Common Snipe since 1987.

Aims: To estimate the size of the breeding populations of selected breeding wader species in Northern Ireland in 2013 and population changes since previous surveys in 1987 and 1999.

Methods: Complete surveys of all potentially suitable breeding habitats were undertaken in randomly selected 2 km squares in each of 146 land-dominated 10 km squares across Northern Ireland. Square selection and a two-visit field method replicated previous surveys conducted in 1987 and 1999.

Results: Northern Ireland breeding populations of Eurasian Curlew, Northern Lapwing and Common Snipe were estimated to be 526 (±95% CI: 252–783), 860 (277–1545) and 1123 pairs (527–1782), respectively. These estimates represent significant declines in abundance of 82%, 89% and 78% respectively since 1987.

Conclusion: Breeding populations of Eurasian Curlew, Northern Lapwing and Common Snipe have declined dramatically since 1987 and the distributions of all species are becoming increasingly fragmented and restricted towards the western counties of Tyrone and Fermanagh. Urgent conservation action is needed to prevent the disappearance of these species from the wider countryside.

Thatcher government plans to deport Hong Kong people to Northern Ireland


This video from Mauritius says about itself:

Demonstration against UK occupation over Chagos

Event: Peaceful march
Date: Wednesday, 7 April, 2010
March co-ordinator: LALIT

To put on the agenda once again the original demands for full decolonization, the re-unification of Mauritius, for base closure and environmental clean-up, and for the right to return and reparations for all Chagossians. What this means is that the march is perhaps the beginning of a new long-term campaign that needs to be built up on these issues.

After the British Harold Wilson government deported all people forcibly from Diego Garcia island in the Chagos archipelago to give place to a United States military (and torture) base … after Wilson’s Conservative successors in the 1970s seriously discussed the possibility of ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Northern Ireland by driving all people opposed to the Great Britain-Northern Ireland union violently south across the six counties-twenty-six counties border (recalling the seventeenth century, when the English military said to the Irish people of Ulster: ‘To Connacht, or to hell!’), now this about the later Thatcher administration …

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Thatcher files: Ministers considered Hong Kong relocation

Friday 3rd July 2013

THE government seems to have seriously considered a proposal for the entire population of Hong Kong to be shipped lock, stock and barrel to Northern Ireland, newly released documents show.

This hare-brained scheme was suggested during the height of the Troubles by Reading University lecturer Christie Davies, who asserted that when Britain handed back Hong Kong to China in 1997 there would be no future for its 5.5 million inhabitants.

The alternative, he suggested, was to resettle them in a new “city state” to be established between Coleraine and Derry, revitalising the stagnant Northern Ireland economy.

Recently released National Archives files show that the idea sparked a flurry of correspondence in Whitehall.

When details appeared in October 1983, George Fergusson, an official in the Northern Ireland Office, sent a memorandum to a colleague in the Republic of Ireland department of the Foreign Office, declaring: “At this stage, we see real advantages in taking the proposal seriously.”

Among the benefits, he suggested, was that it would help convince the unionist population that the British government was committed to retaining Northern Ireland.

If this moronic scheme would have gone ahead, then it would have run into trouble from bigotry among the most fanatical of unionists in Northern Ireland. These are not just bigoted against pro-republican Northern Irish people. Or against Romanian people. Or against Jews. There is also nasty racism against people of Chinese ancestry there.

Northern Irish pro-marriage equality campaign


This music video from Ireland says about itself:

Bronagh Gallagher – Love Will Find You

19 February 2013

Bronagh Gallagher (aka Derry‘s daughter) with her amazing band absolutely stormed the Glassworks with a blistering set.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Gallagher: Spread joy of same-sex marriage

Friday 12th June 2015

SINGER and actress Bronagh Gallagher has called for same-sex marriage to be legalised in Northern Ireland ahead of her performance at a Belfast marriage equality rally on Saturday.

Ms Gallagher will be supported on stage by Quire, a 30-strong choir of LGBT singers.

The rally in front of Belfast City Hall will follow a march through the city being organised by Amnesty International, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the Rainbow Project.

“I was a big supporter of the Yes campaign in the Republic and now I want to see that joy spread to Northern Ireland,” said Ms Gallagher.

“For me, this is dead simple. I think everyone is equal and the law should treat them as equal. No more and no less than that.”

Northern Ireland left behind on gay marriage issue, say Belfast marchers. Thousands join demonstration calling for an end to province’s status as ‘last bastion of discrimination against gay people in these islands’: here.

ABOUT 20,000 gay rights supporters marched through Belfast city centre on Saturday to demand that the legal recognition of same-sex marriage be extended to Northern Ireland: here.