Tonight Ards & North Down Council have voted against Alliance Councillors Andrew Muir and Gavin Walker’s motion to light up the Town Hall in rainbow colours to mark Pride for one night of the year. The DUP and others voted against it and used language to try and excuse themselves as not being anti-gay or homophobic before voting not to recognise the contribution of LGBT+ people in the area.
Northern Ireland Liberal Democrat Chair Stephen Glenn was born in Bangor and educated at Regent House in Newtownards. Tonight he has said:
“My local council have decided not to light up Town Hall in rainbow colours to celebrate the LGBT+ people, like myself, who were born and schooled in the Borough.
“I didn’t feel that I belonged when I was doing my A’levels and went to London to study. After 8 years I had more experience of acceptance and also was able to accept me.
“I came back for five years and came out which was fine in some situations but not in others, so I moved away again for a decade in Scotland.
“I am back in Bangor again. Most of the time I do feel acceptance but there are elected representatives who cold shoulder, block or ignore anyone who asks anything about LGBT+ equality. Some members of that party have also vocalised their anti-LGBT+ sentiments to my face.
“The words that certain elected politicians use have become less harsh in the intervening years since I left for tertiary education, but LGBT+ people look at the actions or lack of actions and the words that excuse their inaction as a sign that they are not welcome. Tonight is just another example of this.
“How many more of us have to move away before we feel at home at home?”