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Gay pride festival Belfast

Northern Ireland found to be homophobic as ‘anti-gay’ advert is blasted

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Gay pride festival Belfast

A new survey has revealed that one in four gay people in Northern Ireland have complained about homophobia in the work place. This report comes out just after the High Court has quashed an adjudication that an ad proclaiming sodomy is an "abomination" was homophobic.

The survey carried out by Rainbow Project pains shows a picture of widespread homophobia in workplaces across Ireland. One in four working in the private sector has experience homophobia. In the community or voluntary sector 31 percent of gay people have reported derogatory comment. This figure rose to 40 percent in the public sector and 42.5 percent in private business.

John O'Doherty, the Rainbow Project's director told the Guardian "This report provides the evidence base for what it is like for LGB people in work in Northern Ireland. It also provides the business case for acting to make the situation better. Government, employers and the Rainbow Project have considerable work to do in that regard."

With relation to the court case concerning the advertisement Mr Justice Treacy said the Advertising Standards Authority's decision had disproportionately interfered with Sandown Free Presbyterian Church's rights to freedom of expression.

The case centered on a full-page advertisement taken ahead of the Gay Pride parade in Belfast, August 2008. It's headline read "The word of God against sodomy" and it invited people to meet for a peaceful Gospel witness against sodomy.

The minister of the Belfast Church, Rev. David McIlveen, called the result in the case a landmark ruling enabling Biblical scripture to be quoted.

The judge said "The applicant's religious views and the Biblical scripture which underpins those views no doubt cause offence, even serious offence, to those of a certain sexual orientation.

“Likewise, the practice of homosexuality may have a similar effect on those of a particular religious faith.

“But Article 10 (of the European Convention on Human Rights) protects expressive rights which offend, shock or disturb.
 
“Moreover, Article 10 protects not only the content and substance of information but also the means of dissemination, since any restriction on the means necessarily interferes with the right to receive and impart information.”

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