Flying the (rainbow) flag for equality

Conall (who's been providing plenty of food for thought recently on Belfast and Beyond) notes that the Belfast, unlike Dublin, does not yet fly rainbow flags to mark the city's Gay Pride.

But the numbers participating in the Belfast parade (5-6,000 in each of the last couple of years) compares favourably, per capita, with the numbers out in Dublin (10-12,000 according to media reports) at the weekend.

As on other issues, where courageous people lead, the poiliticians will eventually follow.

In the Republic, the just-published Civil Partnership Bill has let down gay people – and children -  by not advocating equality for all. Listen to Amnesty's RoI executive director Colm O'Gorman on the matter:

"Equality demands non-discrimination and this Bill will enshrine in Irish law further discrimination. It is a significant advance forward that  accords for the first time ever some level of protection for cohabiting same-sex couples.

"It is contrary to human rights law to discriminate against anybody on the basis of any aspect of their identity including sexual orientation. So the argument about the right to marry is actually about the right not to be discriminated against and the creation of a lesser model doesn't end discrimination in civil marriage."

Conall thinks that gay people in the Republic can speak out "without fear of attack or rejection by society". Sadly, that is to view the country through pink- (or green) tinted glasses.

Just two weeks ago a government report showed that homophobic bullying among teenagers is widespread in the Republic. To think that this prejudice comes out of nowhere and disappears when people turn eighteen is mere wishful thinking. These attitudes aren't so different from the intolerance uncovered in the latest research from the Equality Commission in Northern Ireland, which showed high levels of anti-gay feeling among people here.

Yet, in Northern Ireland, I'm looking forward to a big, colourful, fun and serious Belfast Pride at the end of July. As usual, Amnesty will have a significant presence – both in the parade and during the week, as we encourage people to stand against discrimination and persecution worldwide.

Look out for our Amnesty Pride Lecture and the Pride Talks Back on the evening of Tuesday 28 July. We will be making an announcement soon about the identity of this year's speaker so watch this space.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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