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Why I am walking for gay rights

By Kylie Noble

Published 12/06/2015

Tomorrow, those in Northern Ireland who care for human rights and equality for all, will take to the streets of Belfast at 2.30pm from Art College Gardens, in a call for same-sex marriage.

The rally is being organised by Amnesty Northern Ireland and the Rainbow Project.

The Assembly has voted down the introduction of same-sex marriage rights four times.

Four times Stormont has told our LGBT citizens that their love is lesser simply because of the sexuality they are born with.

Unionist politicians most ardently oppose same-sex marriage.

In the last vote, held on April 27, out of 53 MLAs who designate as unionist, only four voted in support.

The passing of same-sex marriage rights in the Republic has increased pressure on our politicians.

Yet, unionists must remember that it was the United Kingdom which led the way, with England and Wales passing legislation in favour of same-sex marriage in 2013. Scotland followed suit in 2014.

I grew up on a farm in Co Fermanagh, in a unionist family.

I understand that the Church has a massive influence on many unionist politicians on this matter.

I never thought much about LGBT rights until I started at Queen's University in Belfast.

I listened in horror and anger to the accounts of what my LGBT friends have gone through; bullying, self-harm, suicide attempts, depression, having to hide their sexuality from their family.

Several of these friends come from unionist families.

Some of them are becoming more open to a united Ireland due to the recent referendum in the south.

Many unionist politicians fear supporting same-sex marriage will lose them votes.

That may be true for older voters, but they are already losing votes among my generation.

There are many young people from across Northern Ireland who believe our interests are better served in being part of the United Kingdom, but they aspire to an inclusive and fair United Kingdom, in which LGBT citizens are equal.

  • Kylie Noble is a former editor of The Gown, the independent student newspaper at Queen's University, and an alumna of the Washington Ireland Program of Service and Leadership

Belfast Telegraph

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