Northern Ireland is the most homophobic region of the UK and one of the most homophobic regions of the EU. This intolerance is stirred primarily by the dominant Democratic Unionist Party, the main political wing of Loyalist protestantism. Its policies on gay issues echo the homophobia of the BNP and European fascist groups. Many Northern Irish people are not homophobic. Even within the DUP, there are members who would not discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. But senior party figures hold sway and they dictate an anti-gay agenda.
The Equal Love campaign has formally ceased its 2011 application to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), which sought to secure equality in UK civil marriage and civil partnership law. This follows the decision of the European Court that the application is "inadmissible" and subsequent fruitless attempts by campaigners to challenge the ruling. This is the end of the road for our application. We can take it no further. Sincere thanks to the eight couples involved and to all our supporters who stood with us for four years.
Speaker after speaker last Saturday warned of an Islamist agenda of stealthy, creeping, subtle Sharification. This involves sustained attempts by Islamists to pressure public institutions, in the name of religious freedom and multiculturalism, to make special allowances for their reactionary sectarian clerical values.
"We must exterminate these people (homosexuals) root and branch... We can't permit such danger to the country; the homosexual must be entirely eliminated." With these chilling words, the head of the SS, Heinrich Himmler, set out the Nazi master plan for the sexual cleansing of the Aryan race. From 1933-1945, an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 men were arrested under paragraph 175 for the crime of homosexuality. Some were tried and sentenced in the courts; others were sent direct to concentration camps without any trial or formal sentence. The death rate of gay prisoners in the camps was over 50%, the highest among non-Jewish victims.
Too many people in British public life are "shackled by ambition". But there are the few who seek more than short-term career advancement. These are the people of ideas, that challenge, probe, and agitate for change. They are in the business of shaping the future, not of enjoying the comforts of a ministerial Jaguar.
Whatever people think about Alex Salmond and the push for Scottish independence, his statement and actions are the most forthright and supportive on LGBTI equality by any leader of any host nation during a major international sporting event. Neither David Cameron nor Boris Johnson did anything similar during the London Olympics. This is a unique, unprecedented initiative for which Alex Salmond and the Scottish government deserve full credit and commendation. For LGBTI communities in the 42 Commonwealth countries where homosexuality is still criminalised, the Scottish government's pro-LGBTI stance means a lot. It will comfort them and, I hope, discomfort their homophobic governments. It demonstrates Scotland's commitment to a truly equal and inclusive Games. Bravo!
Legalising same-sex marriage was the recognition that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are of equal worth and have the right to equal treatment in law. The same principle of equality applies in the case of civil partnerships. Heterosexual couples should be able to have a civil partnership.
Much animal suffering is not immediately obvious and visible. They are forced to suffer long, arduous journeys and extended periods tied up, chained or caged - with no freedom of movement. Housed in temporary, transportable accommodation, it is simply not possible for circuses to provide an appropriate environment for wild animals.
Rejoice! The ban on same-sex marriage in England and Wales is being finally lifted after a campaign for its repeal that lasted 43 years. The ban was imposed for the first time in 1971. Previously, there was no legal prohibition on lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) couples getting married. The outlawing of same-sex marriage is a recent and historically brief invention by what was a deeply homophobic political and religious establishment. At last, in the first few seconds of 29 March, the ban on same-sex marriage is history. Equal marriage will become a reality. Hurrah!
Former Stonewall chief Ben Summerskill has made astonishing allegations against the Liberal Democrats, claiming they never sincerely supported same-sex marriage. He suggested they acted with "cynical and opportunistic" motives. This is outrageous. I don't support the Lib Dems, but they backed equal marriage at a time when Summerskill and the gay lobby group, Stonewall, refused to do so. The Lib Dems deserve credit for their early embrace of marriage for all. Ben's petty, sectarian smears are unbecoming - and unjustified.
On this day, 20 years ago, the film-maker, painter, sculptor, gardener, author and queer rights activist Derek Jarman died of HIV. One of Britain's leading post-1945 avant garde artists, he is best remembered for his dazzling array of ground-breaking films. But it was as a HIV and queer rights campaigner that I knew him best.
This Friday, the Winter Olympics open in the Russian resort of Sochi amid great controversy over the Putin regime's homophobic policies, which clearly violate the anti-discrimination Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter. For me, queer freedom knows no borders. Over the last decade or so, amazing positive gains have been won by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities in Britain. But I am an internationalist, not a nationalist. We must not give up the fight until every LGBT person on this planet has equal human rights, respect, dignity and opportunity.
Last year, the government was outvoted in parliament. Against minister's wishes, MPs repealed the section of the Public Order Act 1986 that outlawed "insults"; deeming it to be too sweeping and a threat to freedom of expression. This year, in apparent revenge, the government has, in effect, reintroduced in the insult prohibition under another name.
I have this week written to the Prime Minister, David Cameron, urging a new inquiry into the death of the scientist Alan Turing, who has been finally granted a royal pardon for his 1952 conviction for homosexual relations. Turing is generally believed to have been committed suicide following his conviction and chemical castration. However, the original inquest into his death was perfunctory and inadequate. A new inquiry is long overdue, even if only to dispel any doubts about the true cause of his death - including speculation that he was murdered by the security services.