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#InMyShoes: What's the Difference Between Being Gay and Being Left-handed in Northern Ireland?

27/04/2015 17:28 BST | Updated 27/06/2015 10:59 BST

Not much.

Both were considered deeply sinful once-upon a time. For many, being gay still carries with it a hell-fire and brimstone eternal punishment. Thankfully for the lefties out there, we've managed to drag ourselves out of the Stone Age. All that remain are the unresolved Historical Abuse Enquires of the poor kids whose little left hands were beaten until they glowed red and swollen in the name of morality. Today, even the most fundamentalist among us would have a hard time with the idea that those who are born left-handed are somehow in league with the devil. About one in ten people are left handed. Roughly the same numbers are LGBT. People assume that I'm right handed unless I tell them otherwise and the same goes for being straight. Being left handed and being gay aren't choices. I can't remember choosing my dominant hand any more than I can remember 'choosing' my sexual orientation. Channelling Lady Gaga, I was born this way.

You can't beat the leftiness out of anyone any more than you can beat out homosexuality. You just force people to hide better and let them suffer the harmful psychological consequences. A recent study in Northern Ireland found 47% of LGBT people had considered suicide, 25% had attempted it, 35% had self-harmed and 71% suffered from depression. It might surprise you to learn that punishing a child for the use of their dominant hand can produce other harmful psychological effects; including developing a stutter, dyslexia and learning disorders.

Northern Ireland is still stuck in the past and going backwards. There are 26 references to the immorality of the "Left-Hand" in the Bible. There are eight referring to homosexuality, and none came directly from Jesus. My mind boggles over how a political party can pick and choose Biblical verses, use them to enforce personal prejudices at state level and not illicit an international outcry. Westminster certainly doesn't seem to be batting an eyelid. Multiple attempts to bring about marriage equality have been shot down by the Northern Ireland Assembly. Polls are showing overwhelming support for same-sex marriage in the Republic of Ireland's upcoming marriage equality referendum in May. So it's looking increasingly like good old Northern Ireland will soon become the last outpost of bigotry in the British Isles.

Following the now infamous "Gay Cake Incident" involving Asher's Bakery, the DUP announced its intention to include a clause in upcoming equality legislation that would allow businesses to refuse service to LGBT people. The so-called "conscience clause" would allow businesses to refuse custom to a person if they felt they were being compelled to "endorse a same-sex sexual relationship in violation of his/her faith identity." If the DUP had attempted to introduce a bill like the conscience clause in the wake of a left-handed man being refused a cake supporting left-handed equality, I guarantee there would have been collective outrage across the water. I guarantee that David Cameron would have spoken out regarding the absurdity of the motion. Instead, we have been met with a stone cold silence. What does that say to the LGBT community in my country?

I am so fed up with Northern Ireland being tip-toed around internationally because of the past. This is a cross-community issue which is being painted Orange and Green, as usual. Speaking out against the DUP's attempts to institutionalise homophobia does not implicitly align anyone with the nationalist parties, or Sinn Fein. We're erecting barriers out of habit for no good reason. We just can't seem to help ourselves.

Part of the BBC initiative, #InMyShoes for @InMyUK. Join the conversation on Twitter, watch more of our videos on YouTube and find us on Facebook.

This blog was written by Mary Hassan, who's a BBC Generation 2015 contributor. Her views are entirely her own.