Thursday, 4 September 2014

Dear Equality for all

Yes at the end of last week an anonymous letter writer to the Belfast Telegraph took umbrage at the decision at the end of July by Belfast Pride to award this years community partnership award to the Northern Ireland Equality Commission.

Thanks to the Belfast newspapers, we now know that the Equality Commission has been awarded a community partnership award by Pride – the LGBT lobbyists.
Does this mean the commission is now another wing of vociferous LGBT activists? As a neutral quango it must refute the award and sever its association with LGBT lobbyists. If it does not, its funding should be withdrawn.
Lisburn, Co Antrim

Regular readers can probably accurately guess as to what my first course of action was upon reading those words. Yeah I opened my email account and started to compose the following response published in today's Belfast Telegraph:
It appears that your correspondent Equality for All (Write Back, August 28) is slightly misnamed and is only Equality for Some.
The community partnership award from Belfast Pride is, like the other eight awards, voted for from a shortlist by members of the LGBT community.
The winners of this year's community partnership, the Equality Commission, unlike your correspondent Equality for All, says on its website:
 "Our powers and duties derive from a number of statutes which have been enacted over the last decades, providing protection against discrimination on the grounds of age, disability, race, religion and political opinion, sex and sexual orientation. We also have responsibilities arising from the Northern Ireland Act 1998 in respect of the statutory equality and good relations duties which apply to public authorities."
So, yes, one of the groups that is there to provide protection against discrimination is satisfied with the work it has done and at a community award ceremony decided to say thank you for the work it has done and continues to do. I advise Equality for All to come out of the shadows of anonymity and actually become a real advocate for equality for all in our wee country. Who knows, maybe some day he/she will be up for the Pride Advocate of the Year award.

Of course unlike so much of the negative LGBT correspondence in the Northern Press my name and locality are printed at the bottom of my letter. Yes the equality commission is neutral is as far as it is there to gauge to need for action in the wide range of equality areas that are listed in Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act and other legislation. But sometimes in standing up for those minorities they will not be neutral is standing up to the status quo and conservative thinking people and politicians who do not see the need to change anything.

It is not mean the Equality Commission is a wing of vociferous LGBT activists any more that is is for the Feminist Network, Chinese Welfare, Disability Action, AgeNI or any of the groups working and acting for those other minorities.

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