Andrew Muir: Pride was founded to help LGBT citizens lead open and confident lives

People take part in the annual Belfast Gay Pride event in Belfast city centre in August 2016. 
Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
People take part in the annual Belfast Gay Pride event in Belfast city centre in August 2016. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

After the prosecution of thousands of gay men over many decades (such as war hero Alan Turing) homosexuality was decriminalised in England and Wales on 27 July 1967.

Last Thursday marked the 50th anniversary.

Northern Ireland had to wait (as per usual!) until 1982 following Dudgeon v UK.

Whilst we continue to fight for a number of important but absent legal protections the injustice of ongoing day to day homophobia and transphobia experienced by LGBT people must not be overlooked.

Until we have a society which welcomes, accepts and values LGBT people as truly equal citizens many will be left to live a life uneasy with their own sexuality and identity, unsafe and unwilling to hold their lovers hand in public, unable to be fully ‘out’ and with some tragically seeing suicide and self-harm as a solution.

I’ve seen all of this far too often.

The work of LGBT organisations and volunteers to combat homophobia, transphobia and deliver change the face of hostile views from some political leaders and lack of funding must be commended.

Until all LGBT citizens are treated equally and enabled to lead open and confident lives as they desire the battle has not been won.

That’s why Belfast Pride was important when founded in 1991 and still remains so today in 2017 as we continue to raising visibility of these issues with support from our families, friends, colleagues and allies.

Councillor Andrew Muir, Alliance Party, Ards and North Down Borough Council, Town Hall, Bangor

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