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Lifeline supports victims of homophobia

Homophobic attitudes and behaviour still result in social exclusion, bullying and serious criminal assault in Northern Ireland.

As a direct result of homophobia, young gay people, in particular, suffer much higher risk of self-harm and suicide than their straight peers.

During this Northern Ireland Anti-Homophobia Week, we want your readers to know that help, understanding and support are always available from Lifeline, the 24/7 crisis-counselling service.

Lifeline helped 78 callers in crisis here last year, who told us directly of the dreadful impact of homophobia on their lives.

We work in cooperation with Lesbian Line (www.lesbianline belfast.org.uk) and the Rainbow Project (www.rainbowproject.org) which also provide a range of support and advocacy services to combat homophobia.

At Contact, we accept human sexuality as a random fact of life, no more subject to adjustment than blood type, skin colour or fingerprint.

Conversely, we regard homophobic beliefs as irrational, based entirely upon misinformation, prejudice and ignorance.

During Anti-Homophobia Week we welcome the 30-year celebration on de-criminalising homosexuality in Northern Ireland.

Lifeline is here 24/7, every day, providing crisis advice, support and counselling. If you suffer distress or despair on any issue, call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000.

FERGUS CUMISKEY and NORMA PATTERSON

Lifeline

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