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We've more to do on gay rights, but the Chechnya crackdown shows just how much NI has changed

Letter of the day: homophobia

The news in past weeks of the distressing plight of homosexuals in Chechnya gives us pause for thought regarding the position in Northern Ireland - and reason to be grateful.

While the situation here is imperfect for campaigners, the current denial of rights (even denial of their existence as a group) for the LGBT community in Chechnya demonstrates that, regardless of sexual orientation, people can live their lives in relative openness here, free from the tortured misery that seems to be the lot of gay people in Chechnya.

I recognise the perfectly legitimate arguments for same-sex marriage in this region, but compared with living under immediate threat of torture - or worse - people should reflect favourably on the long road to the reforms now enjoyed in the UK and Ireland and draw energy to help improve the lives of people much less fortunate living - or trapped - under different governments and legal systems.

Thankfully in Northern Ireland, the vast majority have matured to the point of recognising that homosexuality is entirely unremarkable, as it is an unchangeable aspect of human nature.

Fifty years ago this month, in the UK, the conversation around the decriminalisation of private same-sex relations found legal expression.

It is extremely sad to see that, in some regions of the world, this basic conversation has not even commenced - to the detriment of thousands of gay men and women.


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