The Rainbow Project has hit out at what it calls the deliberate exclusion of the needs of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) community in the draft Cohesion, Sharing and Integration Strategy from OFMdFM. Over the last number of months The Rainbow Project have been lobbying all political parties as well as various government ministers to outline their concerns about possible exclusion from the CSI Strategy.
Commenting on the draft strategy, The Rainbow Project Director, John O’Doherty said, ‘ For months now The Rainbow Project have been lobbying parties and Minister’s, including Minister’s in OFMdFM, highlighting our concerns about being excluded from the draft CSI Strategy. It seems our fears are realised in this paper and the LGBT community has been deliberately excluded. When you have a Party in government, who are legally obligated to engage and promote equality, refusing to meet with us, it’s not surprising that the CSI Strategy does not recognise the issues facing those with a minority sexual orientation living in Northern Ireland.
‘Adopting a zero tolerance approach to all types of hate crime is important; this does not deal with the underlying problems. We need to see a real and meaningful community relations strategy that doesn’t exclude any section of society.
‘It’s nothing short of a disgrace that one Party can hold up an entire government in dealing with issues relating to sexual orientation. There are so many issues still to be addressed for LGBT people in society, from health to education, from homophobia to hate crimes and from access to services to being treated with tolerance and respect. What’s worse is that the DUP are allowed to hold up any progress.
‘Although the OFMdFM have committed to publishing a Sexual Orientation Strategy, there are no deadlines. It has taken years for the development of CSI, and considering this governments poor record of supporting LGBT people this commitment means very little. A draft Sexual Orientation Strategy was shelved by OFMdFM in 2008 without any explanation. This government is failing LGBT people and therefore not meeting its obligations under Section 75 (1) of the Northern Ireland Act.
‘We are constantly offering our expertise and experience to government departments when dealing with issues relating to sexual orientation and only a few take up that offer, but needless to say there are other Minister’s that refuse to meet with us to hear our concerns. When some of our own Minister’s and some MLA’s won’t even listen to our concerns, how are we as a society ever going to move on to get to a place where we want to be, where a truly shared future and a tolerant and informed society is a reality.
For further information contact John O’Doherty
028 9031 9030
077 8099 6875