By Ciara Rainey

In recent years, huge strides have been made in both LGBTQ+ and women’s rights here. It was only the beginning of this year when we saw same-sex marriage introduced, and later abortion decriminalised up to twelve weeks. Most would think we are moving into a more progressive world, while others are still ready to fight against it. 

However, we still cannot deny that as a culture we have lengths to go. Traditionally feminine work is still undervalued, more evident than ever in the critical underpaying of nurses and other care roles. Meanwhile, being kicked out due to their sexuality is a leading cause of youth homelessness, and LGBTQ+ people are both more likely to suffer from a hate crime and develop serious mental health issues.

Many of Northern Ireland’s young people have once again recognised these issues before our political leaders, and some have decided something needs to be done. Over the past 3 to 4 weeks, Belfast students have been organising rallies in the city centre via Instagram, to show solidarity and support for the marginalized LGBTQ+ in response to the comments of homophobic and transphobic preachers.

These students show disenchantment and anger at the current system which upholds the idea that the very existence of gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, and gender non-conforming individuals is up for debate. They’re sick of a system which allows hateful religious attitudes to infiltrate education so heavily, that LGBTQ+ children must sit through classes where the topic is whether or not they deserve rights. Women, in a similar way, must sit through lessons to teach them that their body is not theirs, and that their choices are not theirs to make, in order to push anti-choice rhetoric.

We cannot continue to allow these groups to live in fear and under this oppressive system. We must meet this issue head on. The only way to do this, therefore, is to establish a youth and working-class coalition movement to fight against oppression and hatred of any people, in any form. We must recognise that these divisions and hatred serve no one but the capitalist ruling class, and therefore can only be fully removed through systematic and cultural changes only possible under socialism.