Workers Party members joined this year’s Pride Parade in Belfast and marked our public support for the event going back to 1991 when we marched through the city with only a handful of people to champion the cause of LGBT rights.
Much has changed in the intervening years but much still needs to be done.
Northern Ireland still refuses to legislate for same-sex marriage despite overwhelming and growing public support. Members of the LGBT community are still verbally bused, physically assaulted and subject to discrimination because of their sexual orientation.
Legislation will address one of the issues but we need to work to achieve a sea change in social attitudes and opinions.This is not an academic argument. It goes to the very core of the type of society we are and the type of society we need to become. Lives are being ruined, prejudices are being ingrained and hurt and suffering are being borne in pain and isolation.
The open participation by uniformed members of the PSNI in this year’s parade is a welcome signal from law enforcement agencies to the LGBT community.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are full citizens of Northern Ireland, and have every right to expect the same level of protection, support and legal safeguards as everyone else. That is a socialist perspective on what is essentially a human rights issue.
Much still needs to be done. We knew that in 1991. We know it now.