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Church to blame for Northern Ireland's anti-gay attitudes, drag queen Panti Bliss tells Belfast Pride

By Oscar Quine

The Irish drag queen who became an internet sensation after attacking homophobia in the region has blamed the church for perpetuating intolerant views.

Speaking at Amnesty International Pride last night in Belfast, Panti Bliss, who is the alter-ego of Rory O’Neill, condemned the role of religion in fuelling homophobia.

“Homophobia is a problem in all of the UK. But polls suggest that Northern Ireland has a particular problem,” O’Neill told The Independent.

“Twenty-six per cent of Northern Irish people in a recent vote said they’d have a problem living beside a gay neighbour and that’s a pretty stark statistic,” he said.

“I think the simple answer is that Northern Ireland is a more religious society and many people use religion as an outlet to express homophobic views.”

O’Neill spoke of his own experience coming out to a church-going parent. “When I came out to my own mother, who’s a religious woman herself, I never doubted that she loved me. But of course it took her a long time to come to terms with what her church had taught her all her life, and who her son had turned out to be, and that caused her a lot of difficulty and a lot of pain.”

Bliss is one of Dublin’s foremost drag queens and in recent years has become an “accidental activist” for equality.

 

Further reading:

Reaching out... in friendship and support to gay youth 

Gay marriage cake row: Are Bert and Ernie really a gay couple?  

Rainbow nation: Where is the best place for LGBTI rights in Europe? UK in number one while the Republic of Ireland lags far behind - survey  

Gay 'Christ Drag Queen' cleric wants to set up Belfast mission 

Taxi firm sorry after cabbie kicks two gay men out of car for kissing

Homosexuality - you don't have to like it, all you have to do is live with it 

The end of an era for Titti von Tramp: Gay icon's retirement 

As winds of change shift on key issues, Northern Ireland politicians must fly the flag for diversity 

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