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Labour will stand up against homophobia

Last Saturday's Pride march in Belfast was a festival of inclusion and diversity.

Twenty-five thousand people took part in and watched the 22nd annual parade.

The Labour Party in Northern Ireland (LPNI) was proud to join them and proud to staff a stall at Pride afterwards.

It is, therefore, sad that Lord Maginnis should have chosen this time to send an e-mail to senior Ulster Unionists calling for his party colleague, Basil McCrea, who marched in the parade himself, to be disciplined for publicly criticising his remarks in June.

The LPNI condemned Lord Maginnis's remarks then - where he equated gay relationships with deviance and "a rung on the ladder to bestiality" - and we repeat that condemnation now.

Instead of seeking vindication for his hateful remarks, Lord Maginnis should - even at this late stage - withdraw them.

Failure to do so can only add to the loneliness and isolation facing many members of the LGBT community and may be used to justify bullying and homophobic hate-crimes.

The landmark measures to establish LGBT equality were extended to Northern Ireland by the Labour government under direct rule. Many local politicians bitterly opposed them.

That's why we need a strong Labour voice in Northern Ireland in Stormont as well as in Westminster - and not just the local parties.

BOYD BLACK

Secretary, Labour Party in Northern Ireland

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