26 June 2008 Edition

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Stormont opens doors to Rainbow project

STORMONT must be a welcoming place to everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson said ahead of an event in Stormont this week organised on behalf of the Rainbow Project gay rights group.
The Rainbow Project aims to address the physical, mental and emotional health of gay and bisexual men in the North of Ireland.
Sinn Féin Junior Minister Gerry Kelly addressed the event.
Speaking just before a reception for a number of groups representing the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities, Martina Anderson said:
“This event features a number of speakers focusing on the need for all sections of the community to be treated equally, regardless of creed, colour, ability or sexual orientation.
“And in the light of recent events, it will also send out a powerful message – that this Assembly belongs to all of the people.
“For too long, the most vulnerable sections of our society have faced discrimination and intolerance from officialdom. Our priority in this new dispensation is to change all of that. We are determined to build a shared and better future where all of our people are cherished.”

The Sinn Féin MLA continued:
“Genuine equality is the bedrock on which we will build that better future. But in order to do achieve that, we also have to change mindsets. We have to change the kind of mindsets which feel it is acceptable for public representatives – in the wake of a violent homophobic attack – to publicly vilify and condemn homosexuality.
“Of course, everyone is entitled to their religious beliefs and to freedom of speech. But with those rights come responsibilities and elected representatives in particular need to be conscious of the power of their words.
“With that in mind, I look forward to hosting this event and I hope that it will become an important milestone on the road to genuine equality in our society.”

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