Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

Belfast Pride: repugnant or still needed after all these years?

Tue 26 July 2011, 12:45pm

The fact that Jim Wells MLA apparently finds me and other participants in the Belfast Pride parade “repugnant” would cause me scarcely a thought if he were not the Deputy Chairperson of the Health Committee at the Asssembly and scheduled by Peter Robinson to take over as Minister for Health in 2013.

As reported by the Irish News today (subscription required), in a text message to Pride organiser Simon Rea, Mr Wells – in rejecting an invitation to take part in the Pride political panel discussion, which took place yesterday (as previously blogged by Mick) – noted:

Dear Mr Rea, I understand that you contacted my Kilkeel office regarding what is termed a ‘Belfast Pride’ debate. I find the behaviour of those who take part in this march repugnant. I do not wish to be associated in any way with this event. My position on this will not change in the future and I would politely suggest that any further requests of this nature will be a total waste of your time. Jim Wells

Given the serious health and social services issues which relate to sexual orientation – suicide, self-harm, sexual health, adoption, etc – the unwillingness of Jim Wells (or other DUP members) to engage in this debate and, apparently, to regard the Pride parade participants as “repugnant”, is extremely worrying and requires a serious response from the party.

Two years ago I challenged the DUP to take part in the annual Pride political debate, saying: “If the DUP want to be taken seriously on equality, then they need to prove themselves to the whole community.”

As Mick has noted, they’ve failed again this year. The challenge remains.

I’ve been taking part in the Belfast Pride parade since 1997. I’ll be there again on Saturday, highlighting the need for Pride participants to stand up not just for their rights, but also the rights of gay people in other countries where sexual orientation can mean outright discrimination, persecution, imprisonment and even death.

For the sixth year in a row the Moscow authorities refused permission for Moscow Pride.

In January Ugandan LGBT gay rights activist David Kato was murdered.

In May in Mexico, Pride organiser Quetzalcoatl Leija Herrera was also murdered, again in an apparent homophobic attack.

In countries like Cameroon, homosexuality itself is a crime. Jean-Claude Roger Mbede is serving three years in prison after he was found guilty of homosexuality and ‘attempted homosexuality’ in April 2011. (You can write to the President Paul Biya about the case here.)

Pride is still needed and will be for just exactly as long as we have people in positions of power who regard the behaviour of its participants as repugnant.

See some of you on Saturday?

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Comments (96)

  1. Eglise en bois (profile) says:

    Patrick, on a pedantic note, Jim Wells is the vice chair of the health committee, Michelle Gildernew is the chair.

    Secondly as for Jim Well’s view, there is no surprises here. Jim has sincerely held views, maybe not very PC views but sincere all the same and well known.

    For me, asking Jim wells to attend a Gay Pride event is like asking Martin McGuiness to attend the celebrations of the Queen’s Diamond jubilee, it was never going to happen and had you done your research you’d have known that.

    In fact, inviting someone to an event which you know they may find offensive is actually rude!

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  2. Eglise en bois (profile) says:

    Sorry Patrick on a reread I see you got Jim’s position right, earlier reports today got it wrong, my mistake!

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  3. The Outsider (profile) says:

    Jim Wells are sincere? Or is that they are just plain offensive themselves?

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  4. The Outsider (profile) says:

    Jim Wells views are sincere? Isn’t it just that they are just plain offensive in themselves?

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  5. gaygael (profile) says:

    The aprticular issue here is that Jim Wells is due to become Health Minister.
    People who are LGB&T experience substantive health inequalities relating to alcohol and drug consumption, smoking rates, sexual and reporductive health outcomes, suicide, self harm and mental health.
    These are all related to experiences of homophobia, heterosexism, isolation, prejudice and discrimination.
    As Health Minister, will he continue to demonise people as ‘repugnant’ and block progressive action, further exacerbating these health inequalities?
    This man is very dangerous – and anyone with an interest in public health and inequality should be seriously concerned about his impending appointment.

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  6. CharlieMcCarthy29 (profile) says:

    Never, never, never? What if one of the gentleman’s children or grandchildren turns out to be homosexual. Will he find them repugnant too?

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  7. Eglise en bois (profile) says:

    Sorry folks, in a democracy, politicians make their views known and ask the electorate to vote for them, warts and all. Jim Wells has never hidden his views, they are well known and the electorate elected him. His party leader, knowing his views, has made him deputy chair of the health committee and heir apparent health Minister, knowing his views – that is democracy.

    Now had Jim hid his views or acted in a hypocritical way, like many in the DUP, then all this criticism and objection would be valid but he didn’t! He’s been straight (if you can excuse the pun) with the electorate and his party, so there’s nothing here to see – move on.

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  8. Eglise en bois (profile) says:

    Of course there is an alternative.

    We can vet everyone, make sure thier views totally coincide with “ours” (ie in this case, they must support gay pride and all its activities), restricit the views of the deviants and prevent them from being heard. In fact we could corral them altogether and make sure they only interact with each other and make sure that the “pure community (or race)” is not contaminated in anyway.

    Or has this been tried before?? Be careful “they came for the Jews……”

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  9. South Belfast Hack (profile) says:

    Is there perhaps a bit of parochial tunnel-vision here on Slugger. In about 2 hours Slugger has given us 2 posts on the DUP not visiting LGBT events yet 4 days later nothing at all on the events in Norway.

    To put it in perspective homosexuality was decriminalised decades ago, LGBT people recieve protection under the law from discrimination and contrary to what you might imagine from the above post the Rainbow Project recieves regular funding from the Department of Health.

    But we know how everyone in Northern Ireland loves to imagine themselves being oppressed.

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  10. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    Okay, for clarity’s (and fairness) sake, here’s what Jim actually said:

    ”I find the behaviour of those who take part in this march totally repugnant”.

    That’s behaviour. Not the people on the march, per se.

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  11. Quincey (profile) says:

    The whole basis for the intitial piece here is disingenious. Jim Wells clearly said that he found the ‘behaviour’ of the participants repugnant, not the slant that has effectively rewritten his words to mean he wants the extinction of all homosexuals.

    Ive heard many times that people find the behaviour of some on other types of parades as being repugnant. No complaints are made there.

    The dress and demeanour of many on the ‘pride’ march is borderline sexually explicit, and wouldnt be allowed even on TV under any other context before 9pm. The subtext is that its ‘allowed’ because they are a poor downtrodden minority who have suffered in the past.

    Many dont accept that subtext as an excuse. They should be allowed the right to judge an event solely on what they see.

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  12. Quincey (profile) says:

    Posted at the same time as mick.

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  13. Eglise en bois (profile) says:

    So the real interesting point must be –

    do all those who support or take part in Belfast pride, approve and support the right of all attendees to dress, act and behave in whatever way they choose?

    Will they afford all other marchers, on other parades the same rights?

    And will they demand that no criticism is made?

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  14. Interesting that yesterday the UTV coverage said that the DUP said they couldn’t attend because they were only invited last Thrusday. Yet Jim Wells text as we can see in The Irish News was dated 16 July.

    So either Jim Wells is a Timelord or the DUP are lying.

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  15. The Bush Ranger (profile) says:

    Well said Quincey. Wells’ words have been twisted by the OP and subsequent posters.

    From recent memory alone I recall the Pride marches making fun of Iris Robinson, there is the sexually explicit undertones to the parade and frequent confrontations / gestured directed at the Free Ps protesting.

    I also note the OP links this to other incidents in other countries whilst we may view what happens in other countries as barbaric we should remember it isn’t our country and it is up to individual countries to bring about change within their own borders.

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  16. Dec (profile) says:

    ‘Eglise en bois’

    Your protesting too much, here. And now your last post has neatly turned the victims into the bigots.

    btw holding different views doesn’t entitle you to label fellow citizens and tax-payers as ‘repugnant’.

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  17. CharlieMcCarthy29 (profile) says:

    The behaviour of a small number of people taking part in gay parades does leave a lot to be desired. I wonder if two events would work better. A public parade for those who just want to show their joy and a gathering in a park for those who wish to enact or simulate their sexual fantasies?

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  18. Dec (profile) says:

    ‘Okay, for clarity’s (and fairness) sake, here’s what Jim actually said:

    ”I find the behaviour of those who take part in this march totally repugnant”.

    That’s behaviour. Not the people on the march, per se.

    Jesus, Mick, do us a favour.

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  19. sonofstrongbow (profile) says:

    Wow! Jim Wells outed as a Christian Hetero. That comes straight out of the blue.

    It’s pretty pathetic when stunts like this have to relied on to ensure that the LGBT community get confirmation that not everyone loves them. Get over yourselves for Cher’s sake. People differ over many things and some hold strong opinions that others may find offensive. To quote an inane TV add by the Letsgetalonger lobby “it’s what makes us you and me”.

    Now if you have evidence that Mr Well’s opinions have influenced his behaviour in government let’s hear it.

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  20. Eglise en bois (profile) says:

    Dec,

    intersting view on who is the victim here, to me the victim actually is Jim Wells, he is entitled to his view, a view that is well known and sincerely held. To me is rude to invite someone to an event that you know they will not attend, especially when you suddenly become “offended” by their views.

    And for accuracy, as has already been pointed out, Jim Wells found “behaviour of those who take part in this march totally repugnant”

    I find the behaviour of some Orangemen, Celtic Fans, Smokers, non Smokers, Hen Parties, Stag Parties, Church Groups etc etc repugnant but as individuals?? that’s another matter

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  21. Neil (profile) says:

    I find the behaviour of some Orangemen, Celtic Fans, Smokers, non Smokers, Hen Parties, Stag Parties, Church Groups etc etc repugnant but as individuals?? that’s another matter

    The difference being that a person’s sexuality is a large part of who they are. Comparing that with the Stag analogy: if you find the behaviour of a bunch of Stags repugnant then once they go home from their weekend they cease to be stags. Likewise someone being orange, or a Celtic fan is not something that runs to the core of their being. Unlike their sexuality.

    It’s a weasel attempt by Wells to get his message across while holding the old Unionist justification card. We know how the DUP like their gay people. Quiet. Now I’m off to the Hilton for a ‘sports massage’.

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  22. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    Dec,

    No harm in thinking about what’s actually been said, is there?

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  23. HeinzGuderian (profile) says:

    It’s a weasel attempt by Wells to get his message across while holding the old Unionist justification card. We know how the DUP like their gay people. Quiet. Now I’m off to the Hilton for a ‘sports massage’.

    This in the light of systematic child rape,from priests ?

    I,personally,wouldn’t attend the gay rights parade…I’m not gay.
    I wouldn’t attend an Orange Parade……….I’m not an Orange man.
    I wouldn’t attend a hungry strike reunion party………..I was never on hungry strike.

    Did the Holey Papa attend the parade ?
    No ?
    Why no bitching about that ?? :-)

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  24. Dec (profile) says:

    Eglise

    ‘And for accuracy, as has already been pointed out, Jim Wells found “behaviour of those who take part in this march totally repugnant”

    But he wasn’t invited to the march but to a debate 5 days ahead of the march. So it’s clearly not just the march he finds repugnant.

    Mick

    Jim/Eglise will be telling us he loves the sinners but hates the sin next ;]

    Mick

    See above.

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  25. So the problem is that Jim Wells didn’t do what you wanted him to do?

    Right, personally speaking I think Jim Wells was right. He is a member of a Church which holds that it is sinful to engage in homosexual behaviour and is also a Christian who was offended by the insults directed at Christ by Gay Pride marchers in previous “pride” events (which I mentioned on another thread). So do I think that Jim should be forced to abandon his and his church’s own beliefs? No! Do I believe he should have to do whatever those who supported the insults against his Lord and Saviour demand? No!

    Really it was better him saying he wasn’t going for honest reasons than turning up and pretending to care.

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  26. sonofstrongbow (profile) says:

    I know weasels are losing the race to meerkats in the loveable furry vermin stakes but I for one am impressed that they have seemingly learned the art of mind manipulation in an effort to redress the balance.

    That Chief Weasel Wells was able to send out vibes to the Pride organisers to invite him to their event only to refuse it to “get his message across” is pretty slick.

    Stick that in your simples pipe and smoke it!

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  27. Golfie (profile) says:

    youngpolitico,

    So when he becomes health minister he should arrange health services to cater for those segments of society his religious bent says he should and deprive those he views as repugnant ?

    Remind me the difference between a theocracy and a democracy.

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  28. Dec (profile) says:

    ‘,personally,wouldn’t attend the gay rights parade…I’m not gay.

    Heinz

    I’m not gay but I’ll be watching the parade (likewise I occasionally watch Crufts when it’s on TV, despite not being a dog and all). I just find the entire day hugely entertaining. Frankly the less sky-fairy fundamentalists hanging around the city centre on Saturday, the better.

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  29. Jim Wells waasn’t asked to attend the parade, he was asked to attend a debate held in the Long Gallery at Stormont. There was no inappropriate behaviour or costumes in the Long Gallery but a civilised debate about issues afftecting between 7-10% of the Northern Irish community. Some health issues were amongst the items discussed, such as the fact that 70% of teen suicide is from LGBT youth, gay adoption and the hetero normative education in schools, some of which fall under Mr Wells future remit.

    In the past the DUP have refised to attend similar events as either part of the Pride Festival or as part of other people’s organised hustings ahead of elections. This time the event came to the politicians. There were DUP members in Parliament Building yesterday just not in the long gallery.

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  30. South Belfast Hack (profile) says:

    In other shock news Ian Paisley declines an invite to the Pub Landlord Associations Christmas booze up, Ayatollah Khomeni decides not to be a judge on Miss World and Willy McCrea won’t be appearing on Strictly Come Dancing.

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  31. But Golfie that’s not what Jim is doing, he declined an invite to speak on a panel… he did not ban homosexuals from the health service.

    You are misrepresenting him deliberately.

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  32. Eglise en bois (profile) says:

    As usual there is a lot of liberal intolerance. I have expressed no personal opinion on whether Jim Wells is right or wrong, all i have said he has the rigt to say it. So Dec, your “hate the sin etc” is unwirthy, you have no idea what my views are!!

    Whether he was invited to the Gay Pride Parade or the “debate” on the gay pride Parade at Stormont is irrelevant. It was always the case that Jim Wells was never going to go and the invite was crass and ultimately rude.

    What really concerns me is the view that only politically correct people, judged by the “worthies” have the right to be Committee chairs or deputies, Ministers or other public office holders. Surely such views are verging on the authoritarian!

    You mightn’t like what democracy throws up but it is what it is.

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  33. Eglise en bois (profile) says:

    Neil,

    As for your comment re orangemen, celtic fans etc and sexuality, its amazing that you are determined to ignore the fact that Jim Wells’ objection was to the behaviour of individuals on the Pride parade not to their sexuality – at least on this occasion

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  34. Neil (profile) says:

    Two things Eglise:

    1) his actual comment is ‘I find the behaviour of those who take part in this march repugnant.’ It’s your contention that he refers to their behaviour on the march. That’s not what he says though. The people who take part in the march are mostly gay folks. He finds the behaviour of gay folks repugnant. That’s actually what he says, whether he meant that or not is something else.

    2) as this was a debate then can we assume Jim will not take part in any debates in which he disagrees with the people there? Or are most debates not made up of people from differing viewpoints having a discussion? For Jim henceforth he’ll only attend ‘debates’ that aren’t actually debates as he’ll only participate when he agrees with the people involved?

    Pardon me but that smells a bit like horsehit. As I said his approach is a weasel one. He’s given enough room for interpretation without explicitly stating what I think he, Ian Jr., Iris and Peter etc. etc. etc. actually believes. I.e. he’s a homophobe like his muckers in the party, just he hasn’t even the balls of Ian Paisley Jr. to explicitly state the fact.

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  35. Eglise en bois:

    You mightn’t like what democracy throws up but it is what it is.

    That’s a travesty of the word democracy. Just because someone has been democratically elected doesn’t mean they’re immune from having their opinions challenged and their fitness for holding office questioned. The only person here arguing that Wells should be denied his right to free speech is you, for saying that he shouldn’t have been invited to a debate.

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  36. Reader (profile) says:

    Andrew Gallagher: …and their fitness for holding office questioned.
    Being elected to the Assembly is a good start. Apart from that, and other criteria established by the GFA and StAA, what extra criteria would you try to get passed into law? (e.g. 3rd level education, no criminal record, certificate of doctrinal conformity from the Workers’ Party?)

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  37. Reader,

    Slugger is a discussion forum, not a court of law. Emotionally-charged threads always seem to boil over into meta-discussion. Can we keep to the issue at hand, which is his expressed opinions, and not spurious arguments over his right to express them?

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  38. Reader (profile) says:

    Andrew Gallagher: Can we keep to the issue at hand, which is his expressed opinions, and not spurious arguments over his right to express them?
    “spurious”? It was you who suggested that expressing his opinions might make him unfit for office. Whereas if he had suggested he was going to be busy washing his hair that night, would that have been OK?
    But if it makes you feel better, if I go with Neil’s interpretation of his remark, then it is more offensive than if I go with Eglise’s interpretation. But I’m not sure a text message can stand such a level of scrutiny.
    Also, I find broccoli repugnant. I might attend a debate on the matter, but not a march. And that doesn’t mean I see broccoli as a moral issue – just a matter of taste. My feelings about broccoli or broccoli related death wouldn’t make me unfit to be health minister. (I’m being literal about the broccoli, in case you ran off with the wrong message)

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  39. Reader,

    No, I suggested that having those opinions might call into question his fitness for office. “He is entitled to his opinion” is beside the point. That just gets you a free pass into the discussion. Once you’re there you have to defend your opinions, not hide behind your right to hold them.

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  40. Still wondering what it is about my behaviour on the Pride parade that Jim finds repugnant…

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  41. shirleymcmillan (profile) says:

    Me and my 6 year old daughter. Repugnant. Cheers Jim. Although, yes, some clarification on what exactly it is about our behaviour that is so disgraceful would be useful.

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  42. shirleymcmillan (profile) says:

    As for ‘democracy’, I suppose I could be wrong but I thought it was the job of our elected representatives to represent everyone in their constituency, not just those who voted for them, and not just the straight ones. but perhaps Jim Wells feels he can do a good job of looking out for the LGBT members of his constituency while also calling them names. Funny democracy we’ve got, eh?

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  43. Nunoftheabove (profile) says:

    Have any of these anti-pride punters ever gone on the record regarding straight acts of anal love-making or oral expressions of hetero delight ?

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  44. RyanAdams (profile) says:

    Patrick Corrigan, I hope you find the attached link substancial enough. While you might not carry this placard yourself, it just takes a few to give the festival a bad name and undermine itself.

    This festival aspires to tolerance from society, by preaching intolerance for the views of christians.

    http://archbishop-cranmer.blogspot.com/2007/08/uks-blasphemy-law-is-effectively-sharia.html

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  45. babyface finlayson (profile) says:

    Eglise en bois,
    To be pedantic, you refer to the behaviour of ‘some’ Orangemen, Celtic fans etc. Jim Wells did not qualify his remarks by using ‘some’, as far as I know. Hence it is interpreted as referring to all gay people on the march, and since they include all manner and shade of gay people, that suggests he feels that way about all gay people.
    I like his stance on environmental issues, not so keen on the gay bothering.

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  46. shirleymcmillan (profile) says:

    Yes and I don’t think he specified ‘gay people’ either.

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  47. Golfie (profile) says:

    babyface finlayson,

    He didn’t even qualify it to gay people just “those who take part”

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  48. Golfie (profile) says:

    RyanAdams,

    I read the article you linked to and noted at the end

    “but if Christians were to carry a placard saying ‘The Wages of Sin is Death’, or ‘Homosexuality is a sin’, they would certainly be arrested”

    christians do this day and daily and the protesters at both Belfast Pride and Foyle Pride have plenty of such banners in their midst and none are arrested and none are even challenged – they are entitled to their beliefs however offensive they are and are not breaking any law.

    Am I to assume that the rest of the article is as well researched and accurate.

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  49. babyface finlayson (profile) says:

    Shirleymcmillan and Golfie,
    Very true.
    Of course he is entitled to his opinion, but he could always have gone to the debate and expressed it more clearly.

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  50. pauluk (profile) says:

    Stephen Glenn,

    You are clearly ill-informed. Your assertion that homosexuality is something ‘afftecting between 7-10% of the Northern Irish community’ is quiet erroneous.

    A very thorough report released last September by the Office for National Statistics stated that in the UK: ”1% consider themselves gay or lesbian, and 0.5% bisexual”, with NI numbers coming out the lowest.

    7-10% is entirely false.

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  51. Reader (profile) says:

    Andrew Gallagher: That just gets you a free pass into the discussion. Once you’re there you have to defend your opinions, not hide behind your right to hold them.
    So would it be OK if he didn’t express his opinions – just acted upon them instead? That would be his easy option. Just refuse to go to the debate because he was washing his hair that evening, and refuse to attend the march because he was walking the dog.
    I think his objection is probably religious. He is probably as hostile to gay sex as other religious people are to abortion. In his case, he has a book that tells him it’s wrong. (The same book tells him not to eat pork or shellfish, but he ignores that bit). Anyway – his religion tells him not to shut up either. So what’s your plan? Outlive him? Outvote him? Convert him? There’s no point in trying to discredit him – he probably thinks his position is a vote winner, and he may well be right.
    Right now, the LGB&T community needs rights, not fights. And for the long term here’s a plan: win over the public to tolerance by being tolerant yourself – by not slagging off our older friends and relatives for not being sufficiently adaptable. And then along will come another generation of fundies that skip a few more verses from Leviticus.

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  52. shirleymcmillan (profile) says:

    @babyface Well, no-one can stop anyone from thinking, but honestly, are politicians really entitled to speak about the people they are representing in this way when they are speaking in a professional capacity? Because frankly, it is we who decide if they are entitled. Are we happy enough to let it pass?

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  53. Mark (profile) says:

    7-10% is entirely false …..

    Asking someone in an opinion poll about their sexuality is not the same as asking them what kinda butter they like ( last tango in Paris anyone ? ….. lol ) .

    10 – 15 % is probably more accurate …

    Who gives a fuc! ?

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  54. HeinzGuderian (profile) says:

    Why would you even worry about what jim wells thinks anywhoo ?
    Have your parade.

    The dupers views on homosexuality,and those of the Vatican,are the same. I hear no whinging about the vaticans views ?

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  55. shirleymcmillan (profile) says:

    The vatican aren’t representing me in government. So yes, I really do care what he thinks about me and my family and friends.

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  56. Ryan
    I hope you aren’t trying to characterise a parade of some 6,000 people by a scrawled sign carried by a single person some four years ago. Obviously that would be ridiculous.

    Re the comment by some that Jim Wells shouldn’t be asked to take part in the panel discussion as he is opposed to homosexuality, I will simply note that Rev David McIlveen of the Free Presbyterian Church took part in the debate last year, expressing his opinions clearly. While I doubt if he won many over to his side of the debate, he certainly did gain the respect of many by participating on equal terms with everyone else. That is a respect which no-one in the DUP has yet had the courage to seek to earn.

    Anyway, as I noted at the start of the original post, the difficult thing for Jim Wells about his comments is the position he currently holds as deputy chairperson of the Health Committee, and more pointedly, his putative future job as Health Minister.

    Let’s look again at this part of his response to the Pride organiser:

    “My position on this will not change in the future and I would politely suggest that any further requests of this nature will be a total waste of your time.”

    It seems to me that either that position has to change or he can’t be appointed Minister.

    As Minister, he would have to agree to sign up to the Ministerial Pledge of Office and the Ministerial Code of Conduct, which contain the following binding commitments:

    Pledge of Office
    1.4 (c) to serve all the people of Northern Ireland equally, and to act in accordance with the general obligations on government to promote equality and prevent discrimination;
    (ca) to promote the interests of the whole community represented in the the Northern Ireland Assembly towards the goal of a shared future;

    Ministerial Code of Conduct
    1.5 (vi) operate in a way conducive to promoting good community relations and equality of treatment;

    So Jim and the DUP – what’s it to be: a change in position or no Ministerial position? I think the people should be told.

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  57. babyface finlayson (profile) says:

    Shirlymcmillan
    I guess they are entitled to say it and we are entitled to challenge them on it.
    Jim Wells and those who share his belief are not going away any time soon (unless the rapture comes) and neither are gay people so sooner or later a frank exchange of views will have to happen.

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  58. shirleymcmillan (profile) says:

    Hi comments don’t just offend gay people. But it’s worse than offence. His job is to represent his constituents fairly and he is not doing that when he speaks of them with such disregard. There is no debate to be had here- he should be respecting the people he works for.

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  59. bumper14 (profile) says:

    Jim Wells represents me 100% when he finds people who parade bare buttocked “repugnant”

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  60. Reader (profile) says:

    shirleymcmillan: His job is to represent his constituents fairly and he is not doing that when he speaks of them with such disregard. There is no debate to be had here- he should be respecting the people he works for.
    Can you name a politician who has never criticised any of his constituents?
    During the rioting over the last few weeks, Slugger was full of people saying that a long list of politicians should start criticising hundreds of their constituents *immediately*.

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  61. Dearbhla (profile) says:

    Belfast pride has moved on and grown so much in recent years. Move on past Jim Wells and his cronies because all they are doing is showing themselves up for the hypocrites that they are and lets not mention DUP and Double standards!!! Have a great Pride week!!! Equality is winning.

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  62. Reader:

    So would it be OK if he didn’t express his opinions – just acted upon them instead? That would be his easy option.

    As a public representative, he is morally obliged to state his opinions clearly so that the electorate can judge him on them. To his credit, he has done so. The OP and others have since judged his opinions and found them disagreeable. To argue that he may be unfit to be Health Minister because of his views is not a violation of his free speech, and to state that he is entitled to his views is not a rebuttal of the argument. There are too many straw men on this thread.

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  63. [...] this morning’s Irish News carried the story of Jim Well’s ‘repugnant’ text, the News Letter confirmed what I half expected [...]

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  64. pauluk,

    Far from being clearly ill-informed I’m a former civil servant who worked with the NSA who carried out that survey and I beleive their sampling technique on the doorsteps and over the phone asking questions about sexuality to be flawed. Other people being present who you may now be out to in either situation would affect results. Plus there was 3% that did not or would not answer. Now with no “society heavy” stigma in being heterosexual I would suspect they were not in the 95% who claimed that they were heterosexual.

    I’m also a rep on the LGBT Consultative Forum here in Northern Ireland. I’m aware of the service provision levels in Northern Ireland and other parts of the UK. I know from those figures that 1% and 0.5% are incredibly low to actual figures and entirely false.

    What is worrying is that 70% of teen suicides in Northern Ireland are of kids who identify as LGBT. Something that the future Health Minister would have heard and been able to respond to had he turned up on Monday.

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  65. Mark (profile) says:

    Stephen Glenn ,

    You may have read my post where I asked who gave a fuc! ? . Obviously that was in relation to somebody’s sexual orientation and not what Jim Wells said .

    I think a cave man attitude like his is part of the reason people like the poster Bumper 14 are sexually repressed .

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  66. nightrider (profile) says:

    Speaking to some ‘repugnant’ people tonight in Hewitt who are mildly amused by Jim’s remark. He must be immune to the fact that half his party *could* be ‘repugnant’.
    Anyway, Jim is not the worst, a lot more cretinous stuff has been said over the years, not only by the DUP. Keep calm and carry on.

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  67. Harry Flashman (profile) says:

    I remember a scene from some TV play in the 1970′s in which red faced saloon bar bore explains his reasons for emigrating. He expounded thus, I paraphrase

    “One time homosexuals were executed, then they were merely jailed, then were fined, then they got let off with a caution, now they’ve legalised the buggers, I’m off before they make it compulsory, har har”

    And of course I laughed along at the absurd old bigot, how could they ever make homosexuality compulsory? Nonsense, just a bit of decency and live and let live. You don’t like homosexuality? Fine, don’t get involved, ignore it, it’s a private matter get on with your own lives, believe what you like and leave others alone to enjoy their lives, where’s the harm in that?

    It hasn’t turned out that way, has it? The old bigot’s nonsensical claim isn’t so odd now is it?

    Don’t want your children to learn about gay sex at school? Tough, it’s compulsory unless you make a big fuss about it and then we might need to have a look at how you raise your kids because the state doesn’t like “intolerance”, get with the indoctrination or find yourself in trouble.

    Don’t want to arrange adoptions for gay couples because you’re a religious organisation and your religion opposes it? Tough, the state will close you down, you’re not allowed to be intolerant in the Brave New World of tolerance.

    Would prefer to choose your customers according to your own beliefs and morals? Tough, you can’t, you must compulsorily accept whoever wants to do business with you, the liberal state tells you acceptance of homosexuality is compulsory now and don’t you forget it?

    Don’t like explicit sexualised behaviour and dress, combined with blasphemy in city centre streets in broad daylight? Too bad it’s compulsory now, you have to like it, you’re not allowed to disagree with it or we will question your right to employment or public office.

    No, no compulsion there.

    Not quite the broadminded tolerance and freedom we thought we had signed up for.

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  68. CharlieMcCarthy29 (profile) says:

    At the same time, Harry, I lot of people seem compelled to travel significant distances in order to be offended. I’ve never been to a “gay” pride event; I had no compulsion to do so. It seems harmless enough compared to a few other parades we have, even though a number of those whom we could fairly describe as “in your face” types do participate.

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  69. Reader (profile) says:

    Stephen Glenn: What is worrying is that 70% of teen suicides in Northern Ireland are of kids who identify as LGBT. Something that the future Health Minister would have heard and been able to respond to had he turned up on Monday.
    I’m not surprised at the figure. But aren’t there also statistics over young male suicides that suggest they mostly take place in areas where Prod fundies don’t have any influence at all? Even if you get a better prospective health minister, I’m not sure that DHSSPS is the department in charge of fixing an aggressive, restrictive culture in disadvantaged areas.

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  70. Harry Flashman (profile) says:

    “I’ve never been to a “gay” pride event; I had no compulsion to do so. ”

    You presumably don’t work in the public sector then, if you did and your employer told you not merely to attend a Gay Pride event but actively take part in your official capacity then you would be expected to do so.

    Should you refuse you could expect to see your chances of promotion dwindle. In the past you would even have faced disciplinary action, “re-education” and perhaps even dismissal.

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  71. Eglise en bois (profile) says:

    In a crazy sort of way harry Flashman’s comments re compulsion should be considered by the GLBT community.

    As for the ministerial code – i wonder how any minister in all truthfulness can upold this.

    How can a Government Minister “promote the interests of the whole community represented in the the Northern Ireland Assembly towards the goal of a shared future” when the community’s views are diametrically opposed to one another.

    In this case how can a Government Minister promote the interests of evangelical protestants and traditional catholics on one side, as well as the GLBT community on the other without being accused of hypocrisy?

    Are we saying it can be done, by a scheme of constuctive ambiguity or plan and simple old fashioned hypocrisy.

    In earlier posts they was the assumption that elected politicians represent all thier constituents etc. In one way this is true but when Sinn Fein MLAs condemn orange parades are they representing their constitutents who are orangemen and when the DUP support the rigth of the OO to parade whereever they like are they representing the views and interests of thier nationalist consitutents – of course not, they represent those who elect them not those who didn’t.

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  72. Eglise,

    People’s individual views are not the same thing as their interests, which differ again from the interests of society as a whole. It may be my view that I should walk across a building site in the dark, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is in my interest. Even if it is in my interest it may not be in society’s interest. Part of a politician’s job is to explain the necessary compromises to his own electorate and change their views in order to manufacture support.

    Harry,

    Intolerance must by necessity be left off the list of things to be universally tolerant of, otherwise we reach a contradiction. Under what conditions we should be intolerant of intolerance is a subtle question though. Rawls makes a stab at it here: http://books.google.com/books?id=TdvHKizvuTAC&pg=PA216&lpg=PA216#v=onepage&q=&f=false

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  73. Eglise en bois (profile) says:

    Andrew, Surely you are making an enormous assumption and an arrogant one at that.

    What if Jim Wells doesn’t believe it is in society’s interest to have a parade (any parade) at which there is behaviour which he profoundly objects to and which he believes is to society’s detriment?

    Does he then have the right and a certain “duty” to advocate those views and to oppose the sad parade?

    If he is a public figure and a leader in society, by your definition he has every right to advocate his view and has the right to encourage others to see things his way. This surely runs totally contrary to many on the views expressed here!

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  74. Reader (profile) says:

    Eglise en Bois: In this case how can a Government Minister promote the interests of evangelical protestants and traditional catholics on one side, as well as the GLBT community on the other without being accused of hypocrisy?
    He needs to meet the obligations of the job he is paid to do. He doesn’t have to enjoy it. He’ll get a chance to play up to his voters some other day, no doubt.

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  75. Eglise en bois (profile) says:

    You ducked the issue Reader. I wasn’t asking about a specific individual, I’m asking a serious question about the rationale for a pledge of office that may be impossible to keep without personal and political hypocrisy.

    So reliance on the “pledge of office” be nonsensical thus personal judgement is required and once that is the standard one side or the other will lose out, leaving it necessary for a politician to make his views known to the electorate and let them decide.

    if this is the case, and I suspect in any democracy it is then Jim Well’s is in the clear! regardless what we think of his views

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  76. pauluk (profile) says:

    Stephen,

    I must say I am surprised and a little disappointed that as a rep on the LGBT Consultative Forum, and ‘a former civil servant who worked with the NSA’, you are so careless with your numbers.

    The most current and widely accepted figures – by none other than the BBC and the Guardian! – say that only 1% of the UK population claim to be homosexual. Even if the 3% who did not answer are secret gays – one of the issues addressed by the Guardian article – that still only adds up to 4%. Using unverifiable and inflated numbers like 7-10%, or even 10-15%, as some do, only serves to undermine confidence in your credibility.

    Your assertion that 70% of teen suicides in Northern Ireland are of kids who identify as LGBT is quite staggering and heartbreaking, if true. I’m curious how this figure was determined.

    It seems strange that a generation ago when attitudes to homosexuality were somewhat more, shall we say, ‘puritanical’ than today, suicide rates were a lot lower. Whereas, in this generation, when homosexual behaviour is a lot more accepted, suicides have risen.

    Would you agree that there would appear to be a correlation between the more liberal and ‘hedonistic’ a society becomes, the more people struggle to find their value and worth and as a result are more willing to end it all on a whim?

    I know that young homosexuals, who are struggling with who they are, will find great help and encouragement from the folks at Exodus International.

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  77. shirleymcmillan (profile) says:

    Anyone interested in Exodus International would do well to hear the story of a friend of mine who put himself through extensive reparative therapy for 17 years. Here’s a link:

    http://petersontoscano.wordpress.com/2011/07/22/demons-in-my-behind-and-other-ex-gay-blasts-from-the-pasts/

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  78. Methinks the Homosexual Community is protesting too much……on this one.
    Clearly Jim Wells letter was intemperate and Id not want to defend it on any level.
    But the invite….in its own way …is clearly something which rightly or wrongly…….took as an insult.

    That Mr Wells is Deputy Chair of the Health Committee is clear but was he actually invited on that basis? There is presumably a “Chair” as well as a “Deputy Chair”. Wearing my cynical hat Id suggest that Mr Wells wasinvited to be the token “traditional Christian dinosaur” on the panel discussion. And he didn’t want to come out to play and his intemperate remarks have facilitated the Homosexual community to play oppressed minority. They are of course in many cases (up to and including murder) but not on this one.
    Mr Wells doesn’t really wanna get along with Homosexuals. Fair enough. But lets be honest a keck of a lot of homosexuals wouldn’t want to get along with traditional Christians. Once again “faux get alongerism” will masquerade as “real get alongerism”.
    There will of course be representatives of other political parties at the Pride thing. But if I was homosexual Id only be 50% impressed when the politicians post the pics on Facebook. Most will be making sure their wives and twenty three children are with them.
    Faux lets get alongerism……its what we do best

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  79. Eglise,

    Again you are mixing up two arguments. He has the right to air his opinions but that does not make his opinions immune from criticism.

    pauluk,

    You must also take into account that in times gone past suicides were often not recorded as such. Hard figures would be helpful before making bold speculations.

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  80. Suicide is not a gay phenomenon neither is it a hetero one either. all classes of people have chosen euthanasia. euthanasia a much better word than suicide dont you think. Even the dreaded Born again Chistians have had .instances of euthanasia.

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  81. pauluk (profile) says:

    Andrew,

    Just became aware of these figures, but they appear to contradict, or at least cast doubt on what Stephen was asserting earlier. (maybe that`s why we haven`t heard from him). In an recent independent report by the University of Manchester, alcohol has been blamed for the high suicide rates in Northern Ireland.

    They said:

    `Young people who died by suicide were more likely than other age groups to be living in the poorest areas and they had the lowest rate of contact with mental health services (15%). Young mental health patients who dies by suicide tended to have high rates of drug misuse (65%), alcohol misuse (70%) and previous self-harm (73%).`

    Interesting that there is not a peep in this non-partisan report about sexual orientation having any relevance. Read the whole thing, it`s very enlightening.

    Also, these `hard figures` from the Ulster Medical Society may be helpful:
    1984-1993 compared with 1994-2002.
    The mean annual rate of suicide increased by 4.7%.
    Female suicide rates decreased by 17%.
    Male suicides increased by 13.2%.

    The highest percentage increase was seen in males aged 25-34, (34%) followed by the 15-24 age group, (26.5%). There was a significant upward trend in suicide rates in young males aged 10-34

    Finally, some more `hard facts and figures` from
    Stamp Out Suicide.

    (formatting seems a little weird, hope it loads)

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  82. bumper14 (profile) says:

    The Free Presbyterians and other “Prod fundies” might throw petrol bombs and bricks at the Gay Pride Parade and injure dozens of PSNI officers because the parade is in “their area”. Then we might have people in high places saying it was OK to riot because the parade was offensive.
    Heck, they might even call for it to be banned.

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  83. Harry Flashman (profile) says:

    @Andrew

    “He has the right to air his opinions but that does not make his opinions immune from criticism.”

    No one is suggesting he be immune from criticism, it would be a fool who would ever say that anyone especially a politician should be immune from criticism.

    However what you are saying goes further. You are claiming that a politician’s publicly stated opinions about a politically and socially controversial issue should preclude him from holding his public office. You are deeming on to yourself the right to decide what your political opponents should be allowed to say. You wish to censor free political debate and restrict what democratically elected representatives may say about certain issues.

    You are being the intolerant one.

    You rightly argue that Wells should not be immune from criticism, please get down off your high horse and recognise that the Gay lobby is also not immune from criticism. You have your political opinions, you are entitled to them and should not be disbarred from holding public office for holding them.

    In a free society Jim Wells has the same rights.

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  84. Reader (profile) says:

    pauluk: Just became aware of these figures, but they appear to contradict, or at least cast doubt on what Stephen was asserting earlier. (maybe that`s why we haven`t heard from him).
    I had accepted Stephen’s 70% figure, but I don’t otherwise have a horse in this race. However, your Manchester figures on their own don’t challenge the claim because 1) The linked article focusses on the subset of suicides linked with Mental health issues, so it’s not at all clear what the various percentages in the article cover. 2) I would expect a lot of young people under severe pressure to resort to drugs and alcohol before suicide.
    I would agree it’s still up to Stephen to prop up his 70% figure.

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  85. Harry,

    However what you are saying goes further. You are claiming that a politician’s publicly stated opinions about a politically and socially controversial issue should preclude him from holding his public office.

    No, I said they may make him unfit to hold that office. That is not the same as arguing that he should be disbarred by fiat.

    You are deeming on to yourself the right to decide what your political opponents should be allowed to say. You wish to censor free political debate and restrict what democratically elected representatives may say about certain issues.

    Again with the straw men. Reread what I wrote.

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  86. pauluk (profile) says:

    Talking about straw men, this whole post is predicated on a false statement in the very first paragraph. Jim Wells did not say he found anyone repugnant.

    I think an apology is in order.

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  87. Harry Flashman (profile) says:

    “Reread what I wrote.”

    My apologies Andrew, I do appear to have confused what posters said and rather sloppily attributed opinions to you which were actually voiced by another poster.

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  88. pauluk (profile) says:

    Just in case anyone is wondering, Pete Baker gave me a yellow card for pointing out that recently released NASA data has virtually demolished the case for anthropological global warming. He didn’t seem to like that.

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  89. pauluk: I took care to quote Jim Wells in full in the original post so that there could be no mistaking what he had said, which is that he finds “the behaviour of those who take part in this march repugnant.”

    Not the behaviour of some of them, a few of them, or even of one guy in 2007 with a scrawled sign. No, simply, “those who take part in this march”.

    That’s me and approximately 6,000 other people: men, women and children. It is Jim Wells who might well apologise to me and thousands of other people for sleighting us by claiming our behaviour repugnant.

    As for his statement:

    “My position on this will not change in the future and I would politely suggest that any further requests of this nature will be a total waste of your time”

    as I have already pointed out, I believe that, come 2013, this would place him in breach of the Ministerial Pledge of Office and the Ministerial Code of Conduct. It seems to me that either that position has to change or he can’t be appointed Minister.

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  90. Nunoftheabove (profile) says:

    Patrick Corrigan

    Does he mean the behaviour of those on the march on the march or the behaviour of those in the march in…life ?

    If he’s clear that what he finds repugnant is consensual sodomy or other physical intimacies and the miscellaneous enjoyments to be had between adults (in this case of the same gender) as a matter of principle then he should say so. If he believes that the only basis of homosexual relationships is sex rather than, say, love, then he should say so. People should demand that he says so if that’s what he believes. If that’s what he believes then we are all entitled to an opinion on his view and to say whatever we think about it and what it says about him as a human being. I shan’t be shy about doing so if that’s the case. If it’s what he genuinely thinks I don’t think he needs to apologize for believing it; after all, do you prefer people to pretend they agree with you generally in life ? I don’t. You want a body politic built on polite fiction and faux tolerance ? I don’t. I do believe that the basis for his opinions needs accounted for and, again, we can all judge and articulate our judgment on that and so we all should.

    If as a Minister he’s required to apply quality legislation and all the rest of it then he can take what he regards as a principled decision to resign on a matter of bad conscience (…would regarding him as a dignified bigot offend you less than the pretence of tolerance?) and/or to apply the equality obligations with his personal misgivings publicly declared and that, so to say, conflict of interest fully on the table and, ahem, out of the closet ? Asking him to pretend to believe something he doesn’t and to suggest that that’s preferable to being up front about it just seems to me to be, well, childish. If you don’t want bigots in ministerial positions and/or feel that they shouldn’t be there whether you agree with them or not then just say so.

    Enjoy the march and, dare one even counsel… fcuk the bigots.

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  91. I went to see this gay “Pride” malarkey today. If any Orangeman in my lodge acted the way some of the marchers in this event did they would have their collarette removed and would have been expelled.

    To go to the capital city of my country and watch gangs of 15 year olds get drunk and leave the city centre looking like a rubbish tip didn’t make me feel proud.

    To go to my capital city and see a number of placards making derogatory comments, false accusations and heretical views about Jesus Christ – I should say that I have three photos of the placards (they seem to be multiplying each year) and have been told that others are reporting them to the parades commission and the PSNI on Monday – did not make me feel proud.

    Personally I chose not to protest but rather to just watch for a bit (I didn’t stand near the protest either), but when I saw marchers trying to block the Gospel messages (not talking about “homosexuals are abomination” or anything like that but other signs like “ye must be born again”) I was actually sad – again I have photos.

    In the end my girlfriend and I felt the city centre wasn’t a welcome place for us and so we moved off on the 4A bus up to the Stormont Estate for the European Pipe Band Championships. There were thousands of people and well over a hundred bands from around the world competing in the second most senior pipe band competition in the world. Though there too had an abundance of alcohol (which in my view had little need to be there) but the day seemed to be a success. People from both sides came together to enjoy a little bit of music and fun with the smiling chieftain for the day (Belfast’s Lord Mayor) and though the national Anthem wasn’t played it was still a great day.

    Back to the city centre at 7pm and looking at the litter strewn city hall grounds and the drunken teenagers draped in rainbow flags left the city looking more like “day of the dead”. Walking back to the Europa we were confronted with a gang of three drunken teenagers chasing a young man in a vest (aged 14-15) because he had apparently said something which had offended one of his friends. He ran away and they gave pursuit yet no matter how far they ran they never seemed to get any quieter. By the time they had reached that road beside Deanes another 30 or so (seriously I’m not making that up) teenagers (mostly girls in Doc Martin style shoes) had joined in the chase. By the time we got to the Europa train station we were just in time to see them being escorted out by security.

    If that is Gay Pride I’d hate to see Gay Shame.

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  92. [...] stand in solidarity with LGBT activists who face persecution and often violence around the world. In a recent article, Amnesty NI’s Patrick Corrigan referenced the recent murder of LGBT rights activist David Kato as “highlighting the need for Pride [...]

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  93. [...] largest political party, is so against this parade, going so far as to use words like “repugnant” when describing those who do take part; men, women and children alike. Whereas the majority [...]

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  94. Jimmy (profile) says:

    Jim Wells said he finds gay ‘Behaviour’ repugnant, as do I. Am I entitled to that view? Yes, as is Mr Wells. Do gays have the right to prance around in a Parade to celebrate that vileness that is Homosexuality? Yes, they have that right. I don’t accept it, but isn’t that what tolerance is?
    Politicians ‘are’ private citizens too it’s just not acceptable to expect them to have a corporate view of every issue without them also having a moral or ethical view on it also. So let’s tolerate other people’s views because in the mind of the Diversity fanatics it appears to only go one way.

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  95. Charminator (profile) says:

    “Politicians ‘are’ private citizens too it’s just not acceptable to expect them to have a corporate view of every issue without them also having a moral or ethical view on it also. So let’s tolerate other people’s views because in the mind of the Diversity fanatics it appears to only go one way.”

    I’m all for tolerating the right to free speech, expression, and other people’s views, whether I agree with them or not.

    However, as a Minister (or in Wells’ case, future Minister), there is an obligation to society as a whole, whatever about his individual views. I would be gravely concerned if his moral or ethical views in any way diminished his capacity to approach his Ministerial obligations impartially, such as, for example, in the provision of sexual health services.

    Some philistines may, for example, disapprove of mixed race marriage, but I think the vast majority of right-thinking members of Irish or British society – as opposed to fundamentalist Christians – would disapprove of any efforts to introduce anti-miscegenation laws. And yes, a great many God-fearing, Bible thumping Christians once affirmed such a view too. When Gov. Wallace lambasted the desegregation agenda, he too, felt that Yankees were what Jimmy here describes as “Diversity fanatics”, imposing their agenda on the South. Imagine, a world where extreme nutcases can roam freely imposing their discriminatory agenda as they please. “Heaven”, perhaps, for some.

    Like society as a whole, members of the gay community face a whole range of health-related issues. They are entitled – like every section of society – to have a Minister who understands and empathises with their health concerns, just as any Protestant, Catholic, Traveller, black individual is entitled to as well.

    We’re all entitled to our views – religious nuts as much as the rest of us – but we are NOT entitled to use the public purse to perpetuate discrimination, be it in the provision of health services for particular communities or employment discrimination.

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  96. Charminator (profile) says:

    “To go to my capital city and see a number of placards making derogatory comments, false accusations and heretical views about Jesus Christ … did not make me feel proud.”

    youngpolitico – it’s called Free Speech. Some of it may not be valuable in your eyes, some of it may “shock, offend and disturb”, but that’s exactly what rigorous free speech is all about. I’d hope Jesus Christ is mature enough to turn a blind eye to it too. He did, after all, die to save the world: a placard wielded by a teenager in Belfast is hardly going to unsettle “Him” that much.

    And, after all, if as you say much of the “free speech” was derogatory commentary and false accusations, then it will be seen as such and you have nothing to worry about it.

    Live and let live: you didn’t let it ruin your day and that’s the important thing.

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