The largest organisation in Northern Ireland supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender people and their families has criticised the Communities Minister Paul Givan MLA for his lack of clarity on the development of the long-promised Sexual Orientation Strategy.
When asked by UUP Leader Mike Nesbitt MLA about the minister’s plans to advance a sexual orientation strategy by 2021 the minister gave a non-committal answer stating:
‘The good relations strategy, Together: Building a United Community gives a commitment to publishing a Sexual Orientation Strategy. The Stormont House Agreement and the Fresh Start document both state that the Together: Building a United Community will be implemented in full.’
Responding to Minister Givan’s answer, Gavin Boyd, Policy Manager for The Rainbow Project said:
‘There was a promise given to our community by the previous government that there would be a sexual orientation strategy adopted during the last mandate. The Rainbow Project and our LGBT sector partners and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions worked tirelessly in assisting officials to draft a strategy which could have been agreed by the First and deputy First Ministers. In spite of our best efforts, OFMDFM refused to fulfil their promise to our community and adopt the strategy.
‘Now the responsibility for developing a sexual orientation strategy has been passed to the Department of Communities and we expect the new minister to make up for lost time and immediately instruct his officials to commence work on a strategy which meets the needs of our community, has clear actions and accountability in place, and is adequately resourced.
‘There are many members of our community who are deeply concerned that Paul Givan, the man who attempted to bring forward the conscience clause, should be the minister responsible for their interests. In order for Minister Givan to allay the concerns of our community, and build our community’s confidence in his commitment to inclusion, he should immediately work to draft an adequate Sexual Orientation Strategy, which promotes the social inclusion of a community which has frequently been marginalised in Northern Ireland.