It’s hard to overstate the difficulties and the trauma faced by Northern Ireland’s LGBT community over many decades. But, much has changed and changed for the better.
Even ten years ago, few would have predicted the level of support and empathy displayed in Belfast city centre today as thousands took part in the annual PRIDE parade and many thousands more turned out to cheer and show their support.
There is however a long way to go until, regardless of sexual orientation, all people in Northern Ireland can confidently regard themselves as full and equal citizens.
Marriage equality makes the headlines, but there are many more obstacles to full and unfettered citizenship.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual people are full citizens of Northern Ireland, contributors to this community and have every right to expect the same level of protection.
There are still barriers to be removed in almost every aspect of life: in the workplace, in education, in health and social care, in the legal system in sport and in the community.
The progress which has been made and which was recognised in Belfast today must be consolidated and secured. It must also be built on and all obstacles, barriers and prejudices removed. There is much work yet to do