Tag Archives: homophobia

Fury-ous about Belfast-bound SPOTY

The BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year awards are heading to Belfast’s SSE Arena on the 20th December. But there is public outcry about one of the twelve shortlisted candidates.

Of course the title of the show includes the word personality, but is merely based on the individuals up for the top awards sporting prowess during the year and has little to do with the actual personability and personality of the individual concerned. Therefore on sporting prowess Tyson Fury who recently won the World Heavyweight boxing title.

However, last month, and not for the first time, he made homophobic remarks. In an interview with The Mail on Sunday he said:

“There are only three things that need to be accomplished before the Devil comes home. One of them is homosexuality being legal in countries, one of them is abortion and the other is paedophilia. So who would have thought in the 50s and early 60s that those first two would be legalised.”

Earlier in 2012 he had tweeted “dont like gays should all b shot dead.”

But it is not just the LGBT community that are up in arms with Fury although there are only three women on the short list he has made misogynistic comments about one of their number, Jessica Ennis-Hill. When asked about her he said:

“That’s the runner, isn’t it? She’s good, she’s won quite a few medals, she slaps up good as well. When she’s got a dress on she looks quite fit.”

Three years ago when Jess was last nominated a fellow nominee was fboxer and Olympic gold medalist Nicola Adams. But when asked about female boxers Fury added:

“I’m all for it. I’m not sexist. I believe a woman’s best place is in the kitchen and on her back. That’s my personal belief. Making me a good cup of tea, that’s what I believe.”

Fury’s comments are so outmoded that he doesn’t deserve to be considered a personality in the 21st Century. In the same year that Jose Morinhio allegedly made sexist comments about his team’s doctor the last thing the BBC should do is honour a homophobic, misogynist boxer whose views offend many sports people, fans and members of the public.

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Jim Wells’ comments in last night’s hustings

Firstly all of those at LGBT+ Liberal Democrats Northern Ireland want to say we are glad to have read the news in the Belfast Telegraph the other day that Mrs Grace Wells is recovering from the rare condition that affected her a short while ago. We wish her all the best in the future and understand the strain this may have put Jim Wells under.

However, if he was really under a lot of stress looking after his wife it should surely have been grounds for him not to put himself under further stress on top of being an MLA and Health Minister to seek election to Westminster. We are putting this up front as Jim Wells in a statement issued last night (see below) mentioned personal stress in recent weeks.

It is this series of comments from last night’s hustings in South Down that has brought this to a head:

Jim Wells

The comments can be viewed in video clips online.

Must horrifying of all with a raucous crowd to the last part about abuse, he immediately sets out to repeat his comments as clarification that he had said them and wanted them to be heard

The last of the sequence is that one that caused the uproar but comments have been made by members of the DUP that they have been taken out of context to the early comments about haranguing Christians and being insatiable lead up to the one about abuse of children by those in homosexual relationships.

There are over 1,200 children currently in care in Northern Ireland as the result of being victims of abuse. Is Mr Wells therefore saying that over 600 of these are from the result of having two carers of the same sex? Note we did not say parents as currently he is not allowing same-sex couples to adopt here despite a court ruling that the law should be changed to allow this. The facts of course are that very few of those children are there as a result of same-sex parents from come from homes with a father and mother involved in their upbringing.

In context of course Mr Wells had previously said that all who took part in Pride were repugnant, this was long before his wife’s current illness.

Mr Wells comments about abuse also seem to flow his comments about the victim of a rape who becomes pregnant in 2014 he said:

“That is a tragic and difficult situation but should the ultimate victim of that terrible act [rape] – which is the unborn child – should he or she also be punished for what has happened by having their life terminated? No.”

There seems to be no realisation that the ultimate victim of any unwanted sexual encounter is the woman who has suffered. It is her body that has been violated, her emotions that have become distraught, her rights that have been abused. It leads to the question does the Health Minister really understand abuse in any situation.

Mr Wells also during the break between the first debate and vote on equal marriage in Stormont was in front of one of members, whom he had meet before, in the restaurant. When the member said hello and was about to ask how his wife and family were, was shunned by Mr Wells with the comment “Oh, you’re one of them!” before he turned heel and ended the civil on the part of our member’s conversation.

Here is Mr Wells’ response after the hustings debate last night:

“The last few weeks have been extremely difficult for me personally. I had just come from a hospital visit and my focus was not on the debate. Indeed, during the event I received several messages from the hospital.

“I have listened to a recording of the relevant part of the debate. I accept that one line of what I said caused offence and deep concern amongst members of the audience and beyond. I regret having wrongly made that remark about abuse and I’m sorry those words were uttered. The comment did not reflect my view nor that of my party.

“Within seconds of realising this error, I asked the Chairman to let me back in and twice corrected my remarks before the debate moved on. This clarification has been confirmed by the journalists present at the event. Partial clips, spin and selective reporting regrettably miss this.

“The neglect or abuse of children is awful and happens in unstable relationships whether they are heterosexual or homosexual. I make no distinction between anyone who neglects or abuses a child regardless of their sexual orientation. I trust people will accept my explanation and my apology.”

If we give Mr Wells the benefit of the doubt over the first sentence we would like to ask why has he made the past few weeks and next couple even more difficult for himself by standing for election in another legislature at this difficult personal time. Clearly this thought wasn’t to the forefront of his mind when he signed the papers allowing himself to be nominated as the DUP candidate for South Down.

But on the matter of an issue such as abuse which falls under his Health and Social Care remit he should surely be aware of the sensitive nature of his comments and the facts about the situation here in Northern Ireland. While he has the right to say he is opposed to same-sex marriage he does not have the right to make up statistics, facts and vilify every lesbian, gay or bisexual person in Northern Ireland in doing so.

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Filed under Equal Marriage, Health, NI Assembly, Westminster, young people

Statement in support of Paul Finlay-Dickson

When somebody is grieving and in the run up to the death of a partner they deserve respect and understanding. But for Paul Finlay-Dickson and his late partner Maurice that was not to be. They were receiving threats and intimidation for being who they are in North Belfast, even while Maurice was going through the last years of his life with cancer.

Intimidation is wrong in every context.

Yet, it has been used in Northern Ireland too often to remove what one section of society considers are undesirable from their midst. We live in a society where our largest political party seem to continue a rhetoric that people are allowed to have objections to people who are LGBT. The problem is that this language leads to people thinking it is alright to intimidate their neighbours whose sexuality or gender story is different to their own.

The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. We call on other parties in Northern Ireland to seek the same so that such intolerance and fear is not propagated through our communities. The language our politicians use at times stirs up some sections against members of our society and more care is needed to promote tolerance and not objection to people who are different.

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DUP ask members is homosexuality wrong

Hat tip to Alan in Belfast over at Slugger O’Toole

The DUP at that conference  handed out a members survey, I’m not surprised by that I’m used to filling in ones for the Lib Dems at conferences all the time, plus there is the Lib Dem Voice monthly membership surveys on matters of policy.

However, one of the questions is interesting.

Page from DUP membership survey

It comes at the bottom of the middle box to the right hand side of this image (taken from the Slugger post).

The first three ‘issues’ are one that do affect all of Northern Ireland at the moment. The first is about the use of academic selection to deternine children’s place in secondary education. The next for the area of the UK with the only land border to the Eurozone is about adopting the Euro, the next is about legalising abortion.

But it is the last one that isn’t so much an issue that is being discussed in Northern Ireland today and is simply “homosexuality is wrong”.

Now the issue that is being discussed is not concerning the rightness nor wrongness of homosexuality but extending marriage equality to same-sex couples. Placing this in the same box as the other three raises questions about why this question is on this questionaire.

Are the DUP looking to see if their members give them enough support to turn the clock back 30 years to recriminalise homosexuality here? Also why are they asking a question about the rightness or wrongness of something that is protected in the Belfast Agreement as a minority community?

Later on in the personal details section there is a question about partnership status. You can check, single, married or living as married, but there is no option for civil partnership. So it would appear that the DUP are quite happy to have members living in sin living as married out of wedlock but aren’t prepared to recognise a nationally recognised contract of union in civil partnership.

At least that was my first thought, then I saw what they really meant.

The DUP are obviously allowing civil partnered members to check the married box, or living as married. So why then are then objecting to it so strongly any time it is debated?

So the DUP survey betrays their true heart. If you are a gay person who is not single you are either married or living as married. Oh the joy that finally the DUP have realised the truth. I look forward to the public statement to this effect when Stormont meets on Monday.

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Filed under Equal Marriage, Stormont

Attitude Magazines Politician of the Year


Last night the Attitude Magazine awards were handed out.

It is with great pride for us in the Liberal Democrats that Lynne Featherstone has been named their politician of the year. Until recently she was the Equalities Minister working to bring forward the consultation leading soon to legislation on equal marriage. Also working with our sports governing bodies to wipe out homophobia and transphobia in sports. With our schools to deal with homophobic and transphobic bullying.

Within hours of announcing that the Government would be launching a consultation on how to bring equal marriage into England and Wales at party conference in Autumn 2011, she was applauded at the LGBT+ Lib Dems AGM. But also fielded questions about why it was only partial party policy that she was bringing in. Last night she was being applauded for going further than Labour managed to go when they had a majority Government and fighting hard against some hard line Conservative opposition (including some in the cabinet) to bring equal marriage so far to the fore and along the road.

Other awards including TV Personality of the Year to Clare Balding for a stellar year in sports presenting.

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18 Key Recommendations from Policing Board LGB&T Thematic Review

Panel discussing the thematic review (L-R) Cara McCann LASI, Jennifer Clifford The Oyster Group, DCC Judith Gillespie PSNI, John O Doherty The Rainbow Project, Alyson Kilpatrick Human Rights advisor to Policing Board and Conall McDevitt MLA Picture by Arthur Allison

On Thursday the Northern Ireland Policing Board  launched their Thematic Review: Policing with and for LGB&T Individual (you can read the full review here and the summary here).

There are 18 key recommendations:

  1. PSNI should finalise its draft protocal
  2. PSNI should consider development of hate crime partnerships in each district (as per part of evaluation in rec. 9)
  3. PSNI should consider hate crime investigators in each district
  4. PSNI should include specific target for detection rate of homophobic and transphobic hate crime
  5. PSNI should circulate statement to all officers to accept without challenge victim or other person that crime was motivated by hate on one of the defined grounds
  6. PSNI should analyse the effectiveness of online reporting initiative alongside LGBT stakeholders checking effectiveness and seeking improvement
  7. PSNI should ensure all victims of homophobic and transphobic crime in Belfast Area given details of the LGB&T Advocacy Service
  8. PSNI should evaluate the implementation of the LGB&T Advocacy Service and report back in 6 months
  9. PSNI should evaluate Hate Incident Minority Liaison Officers (HIMLO) as currently undertaken by neighbourhood officers and report back in 6 months
  10. As per the above evaluation consider whether PSNI policy Police Response to Hate Incidents requires amendment
  11. PSNI should develop as part of its integrated training strand an LGB strand and Transgender strand for officers and staff
  12. The PSNI Training College should develop an LGB&T skills assessment of the organisation
  13. As part for HIMLO evaluation (rec. 9)  PSNI should review post-training analysis of equality and diversity training of officers who are to assume HIMLO duties
  14. When police response to Domestic Incidents is next reviewed, it should include a within it a review of issues faced by victims who are transgender and guidance on how officers should treat them
  15. When providing progress report on Equality, Diversity and Good Relations Strategy PSNI should include information on specific applications from LGB people and from Transgender people.
  16. PSNI should amend its Equal Opportunities Policy to explicitly reference that it does not discriminate against, or treat anyone less favourably on the grounds of ‘gender identity’
  17. On completion of Cultural Audit, provide copies to Policing Board’s Human Rights Advisor, and summary of findings to the LGB&T Independent Advisory Group and Policing Board’s LGB&T Reference Group
  18. PSNI should consider what steps it takes of may take to ensure that LGB&T officers and staff are supported and report the results within 6 months.

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Will Northern Ireland lift blood ban by 3215?

The reason I ask of course is because today the permanent lifetime ban on giving blood is being replaced a 12 month deferral in England, Scotland and Wales, but not here. In his initial comments on 23 September the minister Edwin Poots said there was a increase in risk by allowing men who had sex with men from giving blood, and there was no reason to follow the other three health minsters in lifting the ban.

He has subsequently said he has yet to make up his mind.

But why 3215?

Well on 26 October the Minister faced the health committee who asked him some questions about this issue. Here is what the chair Michelle Gildenew pointed out at one point.

The Chairperson:

The briefing paper that we got from the Department was very helpful on compliance levels and on the current risk of HIV-infected donations being released into the blood supply. I refer you to the fact that the information provided in the paper states that, if the 12-month referral were introduced, the risk would be 0·228 per million donations. The current risk is 0·227 per million donations, so that would be a rise of 0·001 per million donations. How many donations do we get here in the North in a year? I would imagine that one million would be quite high, but the number would need to be over 100 million donations before the figures would kick in. That is an awful lot of blood for such a small place.

Mr Poots:

I do not know precisely what the figure is for Northern Ireland, but I know that, across the UK, it is around 2·5 million.

The Chairperson:

So, you would presume that we certainly do not get anywhere near one million donations.

Mr Poots:

Given that we have 1·8% of the population, a divisor of just over 30 would be close to the figure.

The Chairperson:

It would still not be near one million.

Indeed not using the Minister’s own figures that is 83,333. But 1.8% is actually close to a divisor of 50. For the benefit of this scenario however I will be taking his 30 divisor and merely using 83,000.

100,000,000 divided by 83,000 equals 1204

Therefore assuming neutral population growth and a maintenance of blood provision would see an extra single case by 3215.

Using the actual divisor of 50 is 50,000 (the actual figure from 1.8% is 45,000)

100,000,000 divided by 50,000 equals 2000 (divided by 45,000 equals 2222)

Therefore the actual figure is one by 4011 (4233).

Maybe some in the future may have to prompt a future health minister about not lifting the blood ban nearer any of these dates.

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Is DUP Institutionalising Homophobia?

Picture courtesy of The Bavarian Orange Order Blog

If there had only been one instance of the DUP refusing to engage with the LGBT community in Northern Ireland you might put it down to an oversight. However, there have been a number of high profile instances in the last 12 months.

First we had the Cohesion, Sharing and Integration draft strategy, but seeing as that overlooked all manner of groups not just LGBT it can be seen as merely not addressing anything other that sectarianism and racism. The fact that LGBT, disability, women and victims were amongst the groups which they felt able to cohese, share and integrate without strategic assistance is beyond reproach but cannot be isolated.

Then we did of course have the DUP’s development and aid spokesperson’s inability to comment over giving aid to Uganda despite that nations LGBT record. The party’s deputy convenor on the health committee then famously failed to turn up at a discussion group on LGBT issues at Pride on the Hill in the Long Gallery at Stormont. After years of failing to engage with the DUP elsewhere you’d have thought they could at least have mustered up the courage to turn up to a meeting at their MLA’s place of work.

Picture Courtesy of Liberal Youth

Picture Courtesy of Liberal Youth

Lately of course we have had the health minister’s refusal to look at lifting the blood ban for men who have ever had sex with other men, and by conjecture the female life-partners of men who have dabbled in the past. I understand that there are a number of sources that I know who are seeking Freedom of Information disclosures into what advise the Minister has received on this matter (we will keep you informed once we know anything). One source of advise that the minister has not heard from is the Rainbow Project, Northern Ireland’s leading support group and advocates for the LGBT community in the province.

As soon as SaBTO issued their they requested time with the minister. He has over for three weeks later failed to even acknowledge this request let alone agree to a meeting. Yet the minister claims that he has sought all available advise before deciding that Northern Ireland will not follow England, Scotland and Wales in lifting the ban in exchange for the 12 month deferral period. One has to wonder just how complete and balanced the advise the evidence that the minster has received was.

The wider question of course is why is it that ONLY the DUP out of all the parties in Stormont* are not meeting with and discussing LGBT issues in public debate with members of the community? Why do they shy away from meeting such issues?

Some have accused them of using the Northern Irish religious angle to back away from it. But surely the same religion affects the other parties, yet the UUP, Sinn Féin and the SDLP despite the same religious norms having an impact on their members and voters are happy to address this issues based on science not bigotry, ignorance or stigma of a whole section of our community.

So the question has to be asked.

Are the DUP the last bastions (with the exception of the Traditional Unionist Voice) of institutional homophobia in Northern Ireland politics? If they are, under the terms of Section 75 and Schedule 9 of the Northern Ireland Act, are they fit to govern? Surely part of the way to go about desirable promotion of good relations and ensuring statutory obligations are implemented through Equality Schemes is to consult with people of diverse sexual orientations. This appears to be something the DUP are singularly failing to do.

* Well the Traditional Unionist Voice would have to count as well but as Jim Allister seems opposed to almost everything, including sitting down we can’t accuse him of being merely homophobic, progressphobic, co-operationphobic, peacephobic have to be thrown into his mix.

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