Campaign group Fight4Equality has organised a public conference in the Black Box, Belfast, on Saturday 8th August to step up the fight for same-sex marriage and abortion rights. The conference will be addressed by a number of high profile speakers, including outspoken LGBT activist Peter Tatchell, Mike Jackson of Lesbians & Gays Support the Miners (featured in the movie Pride) and Ruth Coppinger TD, a Socialist Party member of parliament and leading pro-choice campaigner (profiles of speakers below).

Courtney Robinson – an organiser and one of the speakers at the event – said:
“It has become abundantly clear that there is now a huge gulf between ordinary people and the politicians at Stormont when it comes to LGBT equality and a woman’s right to choose. A recent poll showed that 67% now support same-sex marriage and 20,000 people took to the streets to march for equality. Yet the Stormont politicians have rejected it four times! And it’s not just the DUP, senior politicians across the spectrum are opposed to equality.”

You can express your interest to attend the event by visiting the Facebook event page.

“The majority of people want radical change to our 154 year-old abortion legislation, yet all the main parties are opposed to a woman’s right to choose, even in cases of rape! We’ve seen women carrying foetuses with fatal abnormalities forced to travel to England to get a termination, adding to their trauma, while a mother is being criminalised for getting safe and prescribed abortion pills for her daughter.”

“The aim of this conference is to step up the fight for LGBT and women’s rights, to drag Northern Ireland into the twenty-first century. Everyone who wants to be part of that movement should come along. We’re delighted to be joined by experienced and principled campaigners like Peter Tatchell, Mike Jackson and Ruth Coppinger to discuss how we can take the fight forward. We won’t be left behind!”

Peter Tatchell has been a prominent, left-wing campaigner for social justice and LGBTIQ rights since 1967. In 1990, he co-founded OutRage! which engaged in civil disobedience protests against discriminatory, homophobic laws and the anti-gay British establishment. Through his Peter Tatchell Foundation, he organises solidarity work in the UK and across the world. He was arrested and beaten up for participating in the attempted Moscow Gay Pride march in 2007, in solidarity with Russian LGBTIQ campaigners. This solidarity work has included support for LGBTIQ, democratic and left-wing activists in South Africa, Nepal, Iraq, Nigeria, Iran, Uganda, Malawi, Russia and Zimbabwe.Mike Jackson is the Secretary of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) which built solidarity between the LGBT community and miners striking against Thatcher in 1984-85. They saw they had a common enemy. LGSM’s story was portrayed in the movie Pride, in which Mike is a central character. Their work helped build support in the trade union movement for challenging homophobia.Ruth Coppinger is a Socialist Party TD for Dublin West. She is to the fore in campaigning for the repeal of the Irish constitution’s eighth amendment, which equates the life of a woman with that of a foetus. Ruth was an organiser of the abortion pill train from Belfast to Dublin. She has put forward legislation to end legalised employment discrimination against LGBT people in schools and hospitals.

Courtney Robinson is an activist with Fight4Equality and Socialist Youth. She has campaigned against Bernadette Smyth’s Precious Life group being allowed to lecture in schools. Courtney has led protests against racist attacks in east Belfast and previously served as President of Belfast Met Students’ Union.

11am – Learning from Pride: Why Ending Oppression Means Challenging the System – with Mike Jackson
1.15pm – A World to Win: The Struggle for LGBT Liberation – with Peter Tatchell
3.30pm – We are Not Vessels: Fighting for Abortion Rights – with Ruth Coppinger TD and Courtney Robinson