Today Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) have issued a statement about the long overdue consultation by OFMDFM on a Sexual Orientation Strategy.
There are four points that I wish to make to the TUV.
1. The majority of LGBT people in Northern Ireland are probably from a protestant, unionist, loyalist background in line with the general population. Therefore they are not all in Sinn Féin’s pocket. However, we at LGBT+ Liberal Democrats Northern Ireland respect the work that Sinn Féin have done in helping get Green MLA Steven Agnew’s proposal for Equal Marriage into a debate at Stormont back in October 2011. We also are happy to work with the SDLP, Alliance and NI21 as well as any other political grouping that recognises that the LGBT people here do have needs and concerns that cannot simply be brushed under the carpet (as the DUP and TUV would seem to want to do).
2. If we had enough protection for LGBT people in Northern Ireland young LGBT people would not be kicked out of taxis, others would not be forced out of their housing by community pressure (just as racist and sectarian abuse still exists), you would also see open signs of affection in public from LGBT couples just as you do from straight couples. Look around you and you will see hand holding and kissing all the time in Belfast between couples of opposite sex, but if you know a same-sex couple watch them when they are in public.
3. The very fact that TUV ignore the fact that there are health access and attainment issues, as well as bullying at secondary education level (note their woreding) that LGBT people are far from acheiving shows that this strategy is across a number of areas that they fail to recognise as significant and needed.
4. Their final point draws attention to the fact that thinks aren’t equal, countering the “special pleading” that they talk about in paragraph 2.
While we respect the rights of TUV to hold traditional views whenever those views are to the detriment of any group in Northern Ireland, especially one that unlike others is still almost as likely to go elsewhere to feel comfortable as they did during the troubles.