Derry’s famous gable wall was painted pink to kick off the city’s pride festival. Martin McGuinness gave the opening remarks yesterday, and praised the work of community organizations in reducing the number of homophobic attacks in the city, down to 2 this year from about 100 last year:
“Last year there were 100 homophobic incidents in the Derry city area but I am told in the seven
months of this year there have been only two incidents reported and those have not been violent but low level intimidation.”
“That is a dramatic improvement and it is a credit to the community and voluntary sector who have done such a good job in articulating their repudiation of such attacks.”
“Given the role that the city of Derry played in the struggle for civil and human rights, it is a massive step forward that the contribution that the gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans-gender community is making is being celebrated in an inclusive way.”
“There is a strong feeling here and across the north that we cannot tolerate any discrimination or intimidation of any section of society including the gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans-gender community.”
Mr McGuinness welcomed the painting of Free Derry Corner in pink, claiming it sent out a strong message of the spirit of inclusivity in the city.
“I think it was really good idea to use Free Derry Corner as advertising space to highlight the role the gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans-gender community plays,” the Mid Ulster MP said.
“It was also really important to visit here today to show our appreciation of the work the Rainbow Project and the Lesbian Advocacy Services Initiative do not just in Derry but in Belfast and elsewhere.”
“The information and services they provide have benefited the physical and mental health and wellbeing of gay men and lesbians.”
“I am very pleased to launched the Pride festival programme which has a diverse range of events and discussions involving the gay community in the north west.”
Pretty basic stuff as far as these things go, but given the recent remarks of Ian Paisley, Jr. (who said that though he didn’t “hate” gays, he is “repulsed” by them and believes “they don’t care about their effect on society.”) this kind of public support by a government official is pretty important. Paisley, Sr. (at least if I’m remembering correctly) did some damage control shortly after his son (who is also a minister at Stormont) made these remarks…but I think it would be safe to say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.