Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Wearing Purple Today - A Call to End Commitment to Procrastinate

Today is a day that I'm wearing purple* it is a colour that may be being seen around the world on a lot of people. The reason being that today has been set aside as a day to highlight gay bullying and the recent spate of teen suicides that have been directly related to it.

Many of you have said through various means how much my personal experience posted at start of the month moved you. If you haven't already take a look but be warned tissues are a pre-requisite for clicking that link (as indeed they are for me to read the comments).

Last night I attended a consultation for the LGBT sector in Northern Ireland into the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister's (OFMDFM's) Programme for Cohesion, Sharing and Integration (CSI). The major problem of the document is that it focuses merely on racism and sectarianism whilst ignoring other diversities and minority groups as laid out in Northern Irish legislation, (disability, victims of conflict and their families, LGBT and women amongst them).

There is a passing reference that this will set in place a timetable to bring in a sexual orientation strategy. This is a bone of contention within the LGBT community in Northern Ireland. There was already a consultation document for a Sexual Orientation Strategy on LGB (note the lack of T). A question has been asked by Stephen Farry MLA (Alliance) about a firm commitment to a timetable for this.

"Will the junior Minister give a firm commitment of a timetable within which the strategy will be brought to fruition? In doing so, will he bear in mind that a commitment was given to the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister back in 2009 that such a strategy would be brought forward shortly?"

The Junior Minister for the OFMDFM Robin Newton in response said:

"a realistic assessment of the time needed to give due consideration to the issues raised and to complete consultation indicates that the timescale for publication would be no earlier than 2012."

Not before 2012! It is getting somewhat outrageous the timescale that his particular consultation is taking. The omission then from naming homophobic or transphobic hate crimes by name but is a ghostly and other types gloss over is galling in the draft CSI programme. In what turned out to be almost the last word last night I said:

"While the ministers of OFMDFM are telling us not before 2012. This is not a commitment to do anything, merely a commitment to procrastinate."

  • 98% of LGBT young people suffered homophobic bullying at school.
  • 30% of this school bullying was by adults
  • 66% have contemplated suicide
These figures are startling and in a programme that says it will help young people at risk is ignoring some very much as risk young people by it omission and failure to look at a holistic sense of society and cohesion. It is written with the history of Northern Ireland controlling it and not looking to the present and vitally the future where there are multiple idenities rather than where you really feel you should be on a Sunday morning.

* Not this time to Take Back Parliament which also uses the colour.

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