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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 July 2005, 17:27 GMT 18:27 UK
Gay Pride parade given go-ahead - BBC
A Gay Pride march due to take place in Belfast will take place as planned, the Parades Commission has ruled.
The march, scheduled for 6 August, has been held in the city centre for the past 14 years.
The police passed the matter on to the commission for consideration after some Christian groups called for the parade to be banned.
However, Amnesty International said the march should be given the go-ahead.
"Prejudice against people based on their sexuality is, sadly, all too common in Northern Ireland and around the world," said Amnesty International's NI programme director Patrick Corrigan.
"Politicians, church leaders and ordinary people all have an obligation to stand up against such prejudice and stand in solidarity with gay people here and worldwide who face persecution and violence."
Meanwhile, the commission has placed restrictions on a republican march in Ballymena, County Antrim, to commemorate the introduction of internment in 1971.
A spokesperson for the commission said it would be restricted to the nationalist Fisherwick estate.
SDLP representatives in Ballymena have asked those responsible for organising the march to rethink the event, which is expected to attract a crowd of over 600 people.
A statement released by Sean Farren, Declan O'Loan and PJ McAvoy said local residents were "overwhelmingly opposed" to the parade taking place.
"The area affected has a majority of nationalists but also a substantial proportion of unionists," it said.
"Nationalist and unionist residents oppose it. The organisers are failing to consider the views of the local population."
The Parades Commission was set up in 1997 to make decisions on whether or not restrictions should be imposed on controversial parades during Northern Ireland's marching season.
Belfast Telegraph Home > News
Gay rights to the fore for Pride week
By Linda McKee
28 July 2005
Stand up for your love rights, Amnesty International has urged.
Love is a human right and people in Northern Ireland should stand up to prejudice against gay people, NI programme director Patrick Corrigan said last night, as members prepared to take part in Gay Pride week events.
"Prejudice against people based on their sexuality is, sadly, all too common in Northern Ireland and around the world," he said.
"Politicians, church leaders and ordinary people all have an obligation to stand up against such prejudice and stand in solidarity with gay people here and worldwide who face persecution and violence.
"Again, this year Amnesty International members will be taking part in the Belfast Pride parade to demonstrate our belief that love is a human right."
An Amnesty International exhibition, 'Sex, Love & Homophobia' has its world premiere at the Crescent Art Centre during Pride week from August 1 to 5, but a sneak preview will be available at the Pride launch at 7pm this Saturday.
Amnesty is currently campaigning on behalf of 35 men who are threatened with flogging for allegedly attending a gay wedding in Saudi Arabia. Four were sentenced to 2,000 lashes and two years' imprisonment and 31 others to 200 lashes and at least six months in jail.
The charity is also campaigning over the 'social cleansing' of gay people, sex workers and people living with HIV/Aids in Colombia. The paramilitaries and armed groups who carry out these human rights violations are rarely punished, Amnesty said.
The group is calling on people in Belfast to support these campaigns during Pride week.
Mr Corrigan said: "Persecution of gay people is a violation of basic human rights and has to stop.
"When governments criminalise people because of their sexuality, they create a climate of hate where officials and communities can discriminate, torture and kill.
"But if we expose what governments are doing and challenge them to protect gay people we can make a difference. Amnesty needs more people to get involved and show solidarity with those who are at risk."
Belfast Pride given go ahead
Ben Townley, Gay.com UK
Friday 29 July, 2005 11:54
Belfast’s main Pride event has been given the green light from Northern Ireland’s Parades Commission, despite high profile complaints from religious campaigners.
The parade, due to take place on 6th August, will be allowed to follow the original route and plans proposed by organisers, with none of the restraints demanded by opponents.
Despite taking place in the city for the past 14 years, this year’s Belfast Pride organisers were faced with the threat of closure, after opponents reported them to the Parades Commission.
The Commission was set up in a bid to ease tensions over religious parades in the province.
Protestors said the parade was offensive to local people and should be stopped.
After a complete halt was declared unlikely, calls for restrictions were made.
Organisers of the event praised the Commission’s decision today.
"This ruling has vindicated our position; that the parade is a peaceful, cross community carnival which has not and does not breach the law,” they said in a statement.
“We are pleased that the Parade’s Commission has recognised our position as equal citizens of Belfast, and acknowledged that the objections to the parade were totally groundless.”
However, they acknowledged that a small band of protestors were still likely to stage a counter-demonstration to the parade once again.
In previous years, these protests have led to violence aimed at lesbian and gay people taking part in Pride.
Pride organisers say they “condemn the violence and disruption threatened on certain neo-fascist websites”.
"We would remind those protesting of their responsibilities to conduct themselves in a peaceful and dignified manner."
Belfast Pride will officially launch this weekend with a series of events aimed at promoting equality, diversity and tolerance.
More than 2,500 people are expected to attend the parade.