Ireland’s President, Mary McAleese, has spoken out against homophobia during a visit to St Columb’s College in Derry writes Garbhan Downey in the Sunday Times McAleese backs gay campaignSt Columb’s is celebrating it’s 125th Anniversary and the president used her speech to address the issues of sectarianism, racism and homophobia.
“Those citizens of tomorrow . . . what do they say when their friends make sexist, racist, sectarian or homophobic jibes — do they stay silent and let the poison of contempt go on its cruel way, or do they have the guts to stop it in its tracks and say such words are unacceptable and dangerous?
“Do they have the backbone and the conviction to lead their friends in the right direction even if it seems the loneliest place in the world?”
Reported attacks on gay people in Derry have trebled during the past year and prominent gay activist Sean Morrin, project director for the Rainbow Project, welcomed the President’s intervention. Morrin doesn’t believe that Derry is any worse than other parts, but feels the gay community has more confidence in reporting attacks and in reporting them as specifically anti-gay to the Police, a claim supported by the PSNI who last year drew up an anti-hompohobic protocol for the city.