Councillor’s anti-gay remarks denounced

March 16, 2010

SDLP MLA, Dominic Bradley, said references made about the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community during a recent meeting of Newry and Mourne District Council as ‘totally and utterly unacceptable’ in this day and age.

Remarks made by UKIP Councillor, Henry Reilly, alleging that homosexuals lead ‘highly destructive’ lifestyles provoked outrage from his fellow councillors.  The councillor’s remarks stemmed from a discussion on a recent forum organised by the Newry Rainbow Community.

Commenting on the incident Mr Bradley said: “As one of the panellists at the Newry Rainbow Community’s forum in the Arts Centre, I was very impressed by the mature way the audience and panellists engaged with each other.  Many important points were raised – the equality agenda, health provision, and education – and discussed in constructive manner.

“The quality of contributions at the forum contrasted markedly with those reported from the Council meeting.  Elected represetatives have a duty to engage in public debate in a way which respects the dignity of every group in our society.  Remarks which fuel bigotry and prejudice are totally and utterly unacceptable and are to be condemned.  The SDLP believes that individuals have the right to self-identify with regards to their sexual orientation,” Mr Bradley said

He said his party recognises homophobia as the fear or dislike of an individual or group of people based on their sexual orientation and understands that homophobia has a devastating effect on both victims and society as whole.

“The SDLP is committed to addressing all forms of discrimination in Northern Ireland regardless of motivation,” he said.

“As the party of equality and human rights we have been a constant champion against all forms of discrimination and have worked to ensure the rights of the LGBT community are fulfilled.”