The 12 months between April 2009 and March 2010 have seen a spike of homophobic incidents reported to the police in areas like Carrickfergus, Banbridge, Newry, Antrim and Cookstown. However, the majority of incidents go unreported. The Rainbow Project surveyed over 1,000 gay, lesbian and bisexual people and found that 64% of incidents are never reported to the police. The project also found that over a fifth of participants had been victims of homophobic attacks in the last three years.
Those who carry out these brutal attacks are encouraged by homophobic attitudes and remarks made by politicians such as the disgraced Iris Robinson, who is on record as saying that, “there can be no viler act, apart from homosexuality and sodomy, than sexually abusing innocent children”. Her husband and current First Minster, Peter Robinson, supported her views. Sinn Fein President, Gerry Adams, came under attack in the US in March for taking part in a parade which banned gays from participating when other public figures boycotted the parade.
Homophobia is also used by capitalist politicians to deflect attention away from their own anti-working class policies. The antics of politicians, such as Iris Robinson and UUP Lord Mayor of Antrim, Adrian Watson, who stated he would refuse gay couples at his Bed & Breakfast, are used to distract attention away from the Assembly Executive’s attacks on public services and jobs.
Homophobia must be firmly opposed in the workplace, the schools, the home and in the communities. Tackling homophobia must be a struggle for the LGBT community together with the wider working class and young people which needs to be linked to the need to fundamentally change society. Genuine equality and liberation for LGBT people cannot be achieved by a capitalist system which delivers poverty, inequality and discrimination. Only under a socialist society can gay rights be guaranteed.