How Far Has Northern Ireland Come on Homosexuality?

I was thinking of writing an article on the issue of gay rights in Northern Ireland since I was spurred upon reading Daniel Radcliffe tell Attitude magazine:

“People being up in arms about the idea of gay education in schools. Hello!?! Actually for the one or two kids in the class, it’s f****** vital! It really makes me angry. You’re not going to turn thte straight kids gay by giving them a sex ed class about how to ahve gay sex safely! You know. Really. People can cathc HIV even after their first time and that’s what it’s all about; that can be avoided.”

Also the suggestion on Belfast and Beyond which Slugger pointed out yesterday that the DUP should take part in Belfast Pride spurred me on. Plus the Two Doctors also pointing out just which party’s long-time leader started the fight in the 70s to keep Northern Ireland lagging behind the rest of the UK and Ireland on gay rights galvanished the thinking.

There are many reasons that growing up in Northern Ireland in the 70s and 80s wasn’t easy for any of us but that was intensified if you also found out that you were attracted to people of the same gender. The structure wasn’t and indeed even to some extent still isn’t there for you to get any real guidance on that through education until you get to University. When you consider that my secondary school is in the constituency that elected an MP and MLA who thinks it is alright to make a statement on the radio, that “there can be no viler act, apart from homosexuality and sodomy, than sexually abusing innocent children” it shows the ignorance and prejudice that still exists. The education into what gay people actually are like needs to reach to the very top, even within the DUP.

When you add on that Iris Robinson considers that homosexuality is also a mental condition, it’s not. Though I can see why it can be a case of high occurance in the gay community that remain in Northern Ireland. However, from my personal experience the mental anguish had more to do with fighting against what were deemed the norms, prejudice and homophobia that was prevelant around you more than what about who you actually were, once you could break out of the mindset that was prevalent in Northern Ireland that cloud lifts.

I do read each small step that the DUP is taking as a step in the right direction but each of those steps is about 20-30 years behind the rest of the UK. The problem is that while they often tak the talk about inclusivity their activity where it matters in Westminster is often the opposite. There were rumours when they supported the Government on 42 days detention that a deal was being done on watering down future improvements of gay rights in Northern Ireland. It took some months but when the bill came before the House Northern Ireland again continued to lag even further behind the rest.

A long time a Lib Dem activist, blogger and candidate in Scotland and before returning and continuing to be so in Northern Ireland since August 2010.