Pride march – Call to end gay bans in Northern Ireland

Peter Tatchell Foundation will highlight DUP discrimination at Pride

DUP echoes the policies of the BNP & European fascist parties

London, UK – 25 June 2015

At this Saturday’s Pride London parade, the Peter Tatchell Foundation will highlight “legal discrimination against LGBT people in Northern Ireland: the ban on same-sex marriage, the lifetime prohibition on gay blood donors and the planned ‘conscience’ Bill which would permit religious people to discriminate against LGBT people in the provision of goods and services.”

The Peter Tatchell Foundation is in the lead bloc of the parade; sixth from the front.

“Northern Ireland is the most homophobic region of the UK and one of the most homophobic regions of the EU. This prejudice is stirred by the dominant Democratic Unionist Party. Its policies on gay issues echo the homophobia of the BNP and European fascist groups,” said Peter Tatchell, Director of the human rights organisation, the Peter Tatchell Foundation.

Mr Tatchell helped organise the UK’s first lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Pride in 1972 and he has marched in every parade since then.

“We stand in solidarity with our LGBT brothers and sisters in Northern Ireland. We support their campaign for dignity, respect and equality,” he said.

“Many Northern Irish people are not homophobic. Even within the DUP, there are people who would not discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. But senior party figures hold sway and they dictate an anti-gay agenda.

“The DUP has four times blocked the legalisation of same-sex marriage; denying Northern Irish gay couples the right to marry the person they love.

““For more than 40 years, DUP politicians have enforced discrimination against Northern Ireland’s LGBT community.”They backed the total criminalisation of homosexuality, with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. The DUP fought against the partial decriminalisation of gay sex in 1982; spearheading a vicious “Save Ulster From Sodomy” campaign that demonised and vilified LGBT people.

“The party’s strident anti-gay agenda led to its MPs voting in the House of Commons against every LGBT law reform of the last 16 years. They trooped through the lobby to vote in favour of retaining the legal right to discriminate against LGBT people in the military, education, adoption, employment, age of consent, housing, IVF treatment, transgender recognition, criminal law and professional services.

“Successive DUP Health Ministers have maintained a lifetime ban on gay and bisexual blood donors; acting against the medical advice that led to the easing of the ban in England, Wales and Scotland.

“For many years the DUP opposed the right of same-sex couples to adopt children, the introduction of civil partnerships and the holding of LGBT Pride parades in cities like Belfast. It is currently backing a proposed Freedom of Conscience Amendment Bill, which would allow religious persons to discriminate against LGBT people; including denying them service in hotels, shops, restaurants and leisure facilities.

“No wonder many gay people see the DUP as the Northern Irish equivalent of the BNP,” said Mr Tatchell.