When somebody is grieving and in the run up to the death of a partner they deserve respect and understanding. But for Paul Finlay-Dickson and his late partner Maurice that was not to be. They were receiving threats and intimidation for being who they are in North Belfast, even while Maurice was going through the last months of his life with cancer.
Intimidation is wrong in every context.
Yet, it has been used in Northern Ireland too often to remove what one section of society considers are undesirable from their midst. We live in a society where our largest political party seem to continue a rhetoric that people are allowed to have objections to people who are LGBT. The problem is that this language leads to people thinking it is alright to intimidate their neighbours whose sexuality or gender story is different to their own.
The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. We call on other parties in Northern Ireland to seek the same so that such intolerance and fear is not propagated through our communities. The language our politicians use at times stirs up some sections against members of our society and more care is needed to promote tolerance and not objection to people who are different.
As Vice Chair of the LGBT Independent Advisory Group to the PSNI, I appreciate the work that the PSNI put in to this cause. Combating hate crime in our country and throughout the world is an important work. I know that many will support this campaign. I hope that they will wear the campaign bracelet that is available as a visible sign of uniting against hate.
The UNITE AGAINST HATE embraces the Northern Ireland Government’s vision for the future of Northern Ireland as:
“A peaceful, inclusive, prosperous, stable and fair society firmly founded on the achievement of reconciliation, tolerance, and mutual trust and the protection and vindication of human rights for all”.
UNITE AGAINST HATE objectives:
To inspire and to unite. Change to a more tolerant and peaceful Northern Ireland is both desirable and possible. We need to have the optimism, hope and confidence that we can work together to bring it about
To sensitise general public to the problem of hate crime and its real costs. Hate crime destroys the lives of all of us through the damage it does to the quality of life, our reputation and our economy.
To create a climate of zero tolerance for hate crime and discrimination. Hate crime is violent and wrong; it will not be tolerated. There is no room in Northern Ireland for sectarian, racist, homophobic, transphobic, religious or disability related hate crime. This will continue to be vigorously implemented through the promotion of equality and the enforcement of rights.
To promote diversity. Living with diversity is an integral part of modern life and we all need to take responsibility for creating an atmosphere where diversity is accepted as normal. We need to recognise benefits of diversity.
I urge everyone attending any sporting events over the weekend to look out for the Unite against Hate campaign, if you want to get involved you can visit its website by clicking on the logo to the right.