Gay pride in Belfast. ‘Northern Ireland has transformed since I came out in 1996.’ Photograph: Chris Love
When I was elected mayor of North Down in 2013, I pledged to provide courageous civic leadership for everyone. I therefore reached out to people and organisations not previously included in local civic life, and was delighted to welcome to Bangor Castle town hall groups including charities, the Gaelic Athletic Association and, on two occasions, the Orange Order.
On 17 May, the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, I was keen to welcome members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community to the mayor’s parlour. After a few informal conversations, an invitation was extended to members of the community collective Queer Space to visit the town hall for tea. Someone from the group kindly agreed to bring a cake.
As everyone arrived on the day, I was told there had been a problem
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