Newry is 'bursting with pride' again
Tuesday, 2 September 2014
This year's Pride in Newry Festival has been declared an incredible success, according to organisers.
The third annual festival came to a close on Saturday after attracting visitors from all over Ireland and the UK.
Festival-goers were treated to plenty of entertaining events including the Pride in Newry Parade and Concert, a fun filled family area, a comedy night, street theatre and music by the best in local bands.
Difficulties faced by members of the LGBT community were also discussed during a trade union event and political events organised by Sinn Fein and the SDLP last week.
Some pupils from St Paul's High School took part in Saturday's Parade for the first time, alongside the school's Principal Jarlath Burns. The school's participation has been described as a very good indication of how far Newry has come in the push for recognition and equality for the LGBT communities. It is thought that it was the first time a school has taken part in any Pride parade anywhere on the island of Ireland.
Rory Rafferty, Chairman of Newry Rainbow Community said: "The Pride in Newry Festival has built itself up to become, ok perhaps not the largest, but definitely the most progressive and inclusive Pride on the island of Ireland. "Last year in what some people would regard as a nationalist city members of the Progressive Unionist Party walked in the parade. This year St Paul's High School has proudly stood up for equality and took part in our parade. Speaking on behalf of the members of the Newry Rainbow Community, It makes me really proud to be from Newry, a city where small changes are making a big difference."
Saturday's guest speaker was international human rights activist Peter Tatchell, who welcomed advances made for LBGT rights. He also said: "Of course we haven't still won everything. There's still the blood ban, here in the north of Ireland, there's still the ban on same sex marriage and we must never ever give up that fight to ensure that every LGBT person in this province has equal rights.
“In so many countries around the world today, even the right to be LGBT is under threat. With nearly 80 countries criminalising same sex relationships. More than half of these countries are members of the Commonwealth. Forty-two of the fifty-three Commonwealth member states criminalise homosexuality with penalties ranging up to life imprisonment and even execution in parts of Nigeria and Pakistan. Let's spare a thought for those people in those countries who don't even have the right to be who they are without the threat of jail or worse." Mr Tatchell added.
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