The Rainbow Project has announced that former President of Ireland, Mary McAleese will be the Guest of Honour at the European Tolerantia Awards, to be hosted by The Rainbow Project in Titanic Belfast on 25th October. President McAleese will also be The Rainbow Project’s recipient of the 2016 Tolerantia Award for Northern Ireland.

The Tolerantia Awards are a Europe-wide event to celebrate individuals and organisations who have contributed to creating societies free from homophobia and transphobia. Created 11 years ago, the awards exist to recognise achievements as well as to promote greater solidarity and co-operation amongst Europe’s LGB&T organisations.

The Rainbow Project are the only organisation from the UK or Ireland to be represented on the Berlin Alliance, the body tasked with hosting the awards ceremony. In 2015, The Rainbow Project nominated former Lord Mayor of Belfast and South Belfast MLA, Mairtín Ó Muilleoir to receive the award and he travelled to Berlin with the organisation’s Director, John O’Doherty for the awards ceremony.

Speaking on the nomination of Mary McAleese, John O’Doherty said: ‘We are thrilled to host the 2016 Tolerantia awards in Belfast and for the event to be held in one of our city’s most iconic buildings, Titanic Belfast. We are also deeply honoured that Mary McAleese has accepted our nomination as The Rainbow Project’s 2016 Tolerantia Laureate and Guest of Honour at the awards ceremony.

‘Mary McAleese is not only one of Belfast’s most accomplished daughters, but as President of Ireland she was constantly vocal about her support for the equal rights and social inclusion of LGB&T people. Since the end of her presidency, Mary has been outspoken about the rights of LGB&T people and the need for greater acceptance of the community to combat the extreme experiences of isolation, invisibility and poor mental health among LGB&T people in Ireland. As such, we could think of no better person to be the recipient of our Tolerantia nomination this year and very much look forward to welcoming her to the event in October.’

Speaking on her nomination as 2016 Tolerantia Laureate for Northern Ireland, Former President of Ireland Mary McAleese said:

‘I am honoured to have been nominated to receive the 2016 Tolerantia Award for Northern Ireland. The isolation, intimidation and denigration of LGB&T people in Ireland, and around the world is something which all of us have an obligation to challenge. For too long our LGB&T sisters and brothers; daughters and sons have been excluded from society and made to feel unloved and unloveable. The results of this exclusion can be seen in the community’s experiences of poor mental health.

‘The resounding victory for dignity and human rights in the southern marriage referendum should be viewed as an important step on the road to equality for LGB&T people, but it is not the final destination. LGB&T people will not fully be equal in our societies until we end the homophobic and transphobic prejudices which lead to the violence, intimidation and harassment experienced by too many of our LGB&T fellow citizens. I will continue to advocate for the full social inclusion of LGB&T people in Ireland and across the world and I look forward to meeting the other recipients of the Tolerantia Awards from across Europe and learning from their experiences.’


For further information please contact:

Gavin Boyd – 028 90 31 90 30 or 0788 394 5157

John O’Doherty – 028 90 31 90 30 or 07780 996 875

The Rainbow Project will be hosting the Tolerantia Awards in Titanic Belfast on 25th October. Tickets for the awards ceremony can be bought on The Rainbow Project’s website:

Nominees from other countries who will be honoured at the Belfast Tolerantia Awards include:

  • Amnesty International France (Nominated by SOS Homophobie – France)
  • The Prostestant Church in Berlin, Brandenburg and Silesian Upper Lusatia, the Prostestant Church in Hesse and Nassau and the Protestest Church in the Rhineland (MANEO – Germany)
  • Ilona Lepowska  – Screenwriter (Campaign against Homophobia – Poland)
  • Florian Vock MP for Canton Aargau and Jazzmin Dian Moore, Drag Artist and Activist (Pink Cross – Switzerland)

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