Council to look at creating an LGBTQ+ hub for Belfast

Belfast council is looking into the creation of an LGBTQ+ “hub” for the city.

Pride parade
Pride parade

Following a request put to chief executive Suzanne Wylie from the directors of HERe NI, the Rainbow Project, Cara-Friend and Transgender NI, elected members at the council’s strategic policy and resources committee agreed a feasibility study on a community, educational and cultural centre.

The letter, signed by Cara McCann, John O’Doherty, Steve Williamson and Ellen Murray states: “The need for an LGBTQ+ Hub to support the LGBTQ+ community has been developed over many years.

“Despite continued commitments by the Northern Ireland Assembly to develop a sexual orientation strategy, such an approach to addressing the inequalities experienced by LGBTQ+ people has never been developed. Additionally, no central government funds have ever been dedicated to addressing the needs of, or inequalities experienced by, LGBTQ+ people in the last 20 years.”

It added: “For many years LGBTQ+ organisations have rented buildings which quickly become not fit for purpose, due to the continued increase in demand for our services and our limited capacity to cover rent and overheads, as all organisations receive little or no core funding.

“With the development of a fit for purpose LGBTQ+ Hub, the cost of rented premises could be invested in addressing the needs of LGBTQ+ people in the Belfast area.

“We believe that an LGBTQ+ Hub in the city will have a substantially positive impact on Belfast city and directly benefit tourism, city branding and international image, safety, inclusion, equality and promote Belfast as a city for all.

“This building will also act as a shared space for everyone in Belfast to celebrate, engage with and learn about the LGBTQ+ community.

“A dedicated LGBTQ+ space will be a landmark project relating to the ongoing regeneration of Belfast city centre, and stand as a beacon of diversity in a city with a strong history of LGBTQ+ activism.”

The council committee agreed to financial support for the feasibility study, without debate.

The costs are as yet unknown, and the decision will go to the full council for ratification next week.

The same committee also agreed a request to fly the transgender flag over City Hall from dawn to dusk on November 20 each year, beginning in 2021, to coincide with Transgender Day of Remembrance.