On 26 June, a gay couple were violently assaulted in Shipquay Street, Derry. Just a month previously, two men were found guilty of the homophobic murder of Shaun Fitzpatrick in Dungannon in 2008. These brutal attacks must be met with a firm response from the LGBT community and by workers and young people everywhere.
Being an LGBT person means facing discrimination in the workplace, bullying at school and in many cases from family members, not being able to marry your loved one legally, and being faced with higher rates of suicide and homelessness (between 20 and 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBT).
Pop sensation of the moment, Lady Gaga, has recently topped one billion views of her videos on Youtube. Her new 10-minute music video Telephone is creating quite a stir. The video has been praised as exemplifying “liberated” female sexuality and Lady Gaga herself has been held up in the media, including by feminists, as a “feminist icon and a gender revolutionary” and “a strong symbolic figure… for the openly and secretly flamboyant of all genders and sexualities.”
To the editor, The Impartial Reporter,
I’m sure I wasn’t the only reader of your paper to be disgusted by the homophobic content in the letter from Patrick Maguire in last week’s paper.
It is estimated widely that approximately one in ten people are born homosexual and that this ratio is similar pretty much around the world. As a result of widespread hostility and prejudice, many homosexual people suffer from unremitting bullying, isolation and rejection from their families and communities. The situation in Fermanagh is known to be particularly grave in this regard.
“Homosexuality is not natural. My Christian beliefs tell me that it is an abomination and that is very clear.
“I have a very lovely psychiatrist who works with me in my offices and his Christian background is that he tries to help homosexuals – trying to turn away from what they are engaged in. I’m happy to put any homosexual in touch with this gentleman and I have met people who have turned around and become heterosexuals.”
– Iris Robinson MP MLA (DUP)
Iris Robinson’s recent homophobic remarks, in which she described homosexuality as an “abomination” and said gay people could be turned into heterosexuals through counselling, exposed again the bigoted nature of DUP politicians. But more importantly it has also drawn attention to the discrimination that the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered) community still face in Northern Ireland.
STEP UP THE FIGHT FOR LGBT EQUALITY
This year marks an important fortieth anniversary for all who support equality for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) community.
On 28 June 1969 the police raided the Stonewall Inn in New York. This in of itself was not unusual. This time however LGBT people fought back against the police over two nights of rioting. After the Stonewall riots those involved in fighting police harassment organised the Gay Liberation Front which united with socialist, anti-war, anti-racist and trade union activists in the fight for liberation including bravely organising the first gay pride events.