The man who decriminalised homosexuality in NI: Praise for Jeff Dudgeon on 40th anniversary of historic ruling

Today marks 40 years since Jeff Dudgeon took on the UK and brought about a landmark ruling which saw homosexuality decriminalised in Northern Ireland a year later.

Friday, 22nd October 2021, 12:01 am
Former UUP councillor Jeff Dudgeon, who 40 years ago made history by bringing about a change in the law decriminalising homosexuality in Northern Ireland. Picture by Arthur Allison.

UUP party leader Doug Beattie paid tribute to the human rights activist and party colleague: “The courage of Jeff Dudgeon in taking this case cannot be overestimated. It was a hostile time and he received death threats, his home was attacked and he was questioned by the police. It was not the easy road, but he knew it was the right one.

“It was a history changing moment and impacted on the lives of thousands of people who owe Jeff a huge debt of gratitude.

“Jeff is a true hero of human rights and equality.”

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Speaking on the anniversary, Aisling Twomey from The Rainbow Project, said: “We owe a lot to our LGBTQIA+ pioneers such as Jeff and others, who when campaigning for decriminalisation (of homosexuality) were routinely rounded up, questioned and had their homes raided.

“While Northern Ireland has changed significantly within the last 40 years, there are still many inequalities experienced by LGBTQIA+ people and a lack of visibility of LGBTQIA+ people in public life.

“LGBTQIA+ People are still afraid to hold their loved one’s hand in public and feel they need to change their behaviour in public to avoid possibly being targeted for their sexual orientation and gender identity. Fears of violence, intimidation and harassment remain a reality for many lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex and asexual people across Northern Ireland and beyond.”

“Despite significant barriers to equality in NI, we must recognise the substantial change that has been achieved. Through effective campaigning and non-stop advocacy by the LGBTQIA+ community we have seen changes to adoption regulations in 2013, the introduction of the disregard process for historical convictions in 2016, reforms to the blood ban in 2017 & 2020 and the introduction of Equal Marriage in 2020.”

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