Friday, March 29, 2013

World News

Northern Ireland
Gay Rights Are Very Much Problematic In Northern Ireland
BELFAST -- For editor and founder of MyGayZine Danny Toner-an online magazine aimed at the LGBTQ community in Northern Ireland- his hope to have the first print edition ready for this year's Belfast Pride was crushed when a local printer he had contacted refused to work with the magazine because of its readership.
In an e-mail to Toner, Blufire Media owner Nick Williamson wrote; "Unfortunately due to the nature of the magazine we are unable to give a quote." 
After Toner pressed for a further more detailed explanation Williamson responded with;
"There are some types of work I do not feel comfortable taking on and this is definitely one of them. To work alongside (even printing for) the LGBT [community] would be in contradiction to my own faith and so I will have to let this quote slide." 
The story broke in The Guardian UK newspaper Friday which noted that MyGayZine does not contain any adult content. Recent issues offered features regarding homophobia, gay life, travel and culture, as well as crosswords and recipes for carrot and ginger soup.
In an interview, Toner told the Guardian:
"This is my seventh month producing the magazine," Toner said. "I started it up as a home project and it's grown and grown. So after a couple of months building up enough capital, I started looking into getting it printed. 
We'd been advised not to go to local printers but to opt for foreign ones because it'd be cheaper, but we were against the idea – we wanted to stick with local people. 
Once he [Williamson] came back and was open about the reasons for refusing, I was shocked about how blatant he was. I felt hurt and annoyed and confused. Why? How could anybody refuse a service just for that one reason? It was embarrassing too – it's shaming."  
Toner has since forwarded the e-mails and lodged a complaint with the Equality Commission in Northern Ireland. Under the Equality Act 2010, the refusal to offer goods or services on the grounds of sexual orientation is illegal in the UK which includes Northern Ireland. Toner also has reached out to a local attorney whose specialty is LGBTQ legal issues;
"Part of the reason we started this magazine in the first place was in order to fight homophobia and to bring it to people's attention. Things have improved for gay people in Northern Ireland in the last five or six years but there's still a long way to go."
Williamson has refused to comment.
The Guardian also reported Friday that Amnesty International and local LGBT equality rights organisation the Rainbow Project, are prepared to take Northern Ireland's coalition government to court over its refusal to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry.
The Northern Irish lawmakers, in a vote late last year, made Northern Ireland the only part of the United Kingdom where LGBT people are excluded from the UK's same sex marriage bill, which was passed in the House of Commons in February.
Spokespersons for both rights groups told The Guardian "it is inevitable that the LGBT community will use the Human Rights Act and European human rights legislation to force Northern Ireland to bring the law into line with Britain."
Legal proceedings will be set to be tried in Belfast, which was the first city in the UK to host a gay civil union in 2005.
Shannon Sickles and Grainne Close were partnered in a civil ceremony at Belfast City Hall, however under the current laws, they are prevented from being married in there. Speaking about their 2005 ceremony they said;
"People felt proud that Northern Ireland was in the media for something positive, after years and years of negative media coverage all over the world. 
But they added: 
"In order for us to exercise our right to marry, we would have to leave NI. We've made a life for ourselves here in Belfast, and we should have the same rights afforded to us as other citizens and be able to make a choice about marriage for ourselves."