Ireland nearly there on gay equality, says Senator David Norris at start of Belfast Pride week

According to Irish Senator David Norris, Ireland, north and south, is “nearly there” in terms of achieving equality for gay people.

Senator Norris, a prominent human rights campaigner in the Republic of Ireland, who was the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in Ireland, was speaking ahead of the Amnesty International Belfast Pride lecture on Monday evening. Norris has recently indicated his intention to stand for the Irish Presidency.

Senator Norris said: “The recent passage of the Civil Partnership Bill by the Oireachtas in Dublin represents a very significant advance.

“It was a victory, not for gay people, but rather a victory for decency and for this country as a whole.
“It is clear that we are very nearly there in terms of the accomplishment of full human and civil rights of gay people in Ireland, both north and south. But we are not there yet.

“Despite such victories, sadly there is still prejudice against the gay community – including among those active in public life in Northern Ireland. We must continue to work to ensure human rights for all people and to educate others that equality is a right not a threat.

“It is crucial that we do not shed our concerns for others throughout the world who live in less favourable circumstances and whose sexual orientation places them every day in danger of being murdered, either by members of the public or by their governments.”

Amnesty International recently campaigned on behalf of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, a couple in Malawi who were arrested and sentenced to 14 years in prison with hard labour after having an engagement celebration ahead of their planned wedding. Amnesty International will be asking people throughout Belfast to support its ‘Love is a Human Right’ campaign during Belfast Pride week which starts this weekend.
The Amnesty International Belfast Pride lecture, presented by Amnesty International as part of the 2010 Belfast Pride Festival, will take place at 6:30pm on Monday July 26 at the Europa Hotel, Belfast. The event is free of charge.

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