An unbaked cake shows Northern Ireland must still improve on gay rights | Andrew Muir

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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Ireland: Same-sex marriage referendum confirmed for spring 2015

Enda Kenny confirmed the referendum for Spring 2015 Share on WhatsApp 28 reader comments

The date has been provisionally set for Ireland’s long-awaited same-sex marriage referendum.

The delayed referendum will take place within the first four months of 2015, the country’s Prime Minister confirmed yesterday.

It was first announced by Irish Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore in June 2013, and was initially expected to take place this year, but was later expected to slip to 2015.

Speaking about same-sex adoption in the Dáil, Prime Minister Enda Kenny said: “The referendum will be in spring of next year. We haven’t named a date yet.

“There are a number of other legal issues that need to be dealt with, including elements of adoption which are necessary.

“We’d like to have that cleared before we put the marriage equality referendum. The government will decide a date in due course.”

Justice minister Alan Shatter said: “

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Ireland: Government to ban religious schools from discriminating against gay teachers

Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn will propose the change 12 reader comments

The Irish government is seeking to close a loophole in equality law that permits religious employers to discriminate against gays.

An amendment, jointly submitted by Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, would repeal a portion of the Employment Equality Act.

Section 37 of the Employment Equaltiy Act currently exempts religious institutions from the law, allowing discrimination “where it is reasonable to do so in order to maintain the religious ethos of the institution”.

It specifically mentions church-run “educational and medical institutions” do not have to follow the law.

Teachers’ unions in the country have long campaigned for the change, arguing that the provision is effectively a license to discriminate against gay people for church groups.

According to the Irish Times, a proposal to repeal Section 37 will be taken to the Cabinet on Tuesday.

One the proposal gains cabinet approval, it will head to the country’s parliament in the Autumn.

Previous opposition bills on the issue have failed to gain traction previously, due to the strong opposition of religious groups.

Quinn’s proposals are largely modelled on one such bill, submitted by Labour Senator Ivana Bacik in the Senate last year.

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Rapper Angel Haze on Ireland Baldwin: We’re not ‘best friends’, we f**k

Angel Haze says the press aren’t comfortable with her interracial gay relationship 5 reader comments

Pansexual rapper Angel Haze has accused the press of being uncomfortable with her interracial lesbian relationship with Ireland Baldwin.

The rapper told the Independent she is often annoyed that coverage of her relationship with Baldwin – the daughter of Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin – often refers to the couple as “best friends”.

She said: “I don’t know if there’s like some confirm or deny thing with the way relationships work in the media, but everyone just calls us best friends, best friends for life, like we’re just friends hanging out.

“It’s funny. It’s rad in some ways, it sucks in others.”

“There are still certain limitations for women. If we were two guys, it’d be insane, negatively insane with the attention. With us it’s all being very positive, the media are like, ‘Oh they’re so cute, they’re best friends’.

“An interracial gay couple, I mean that’s just weird for America right now. We f

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Northern Ireland LGBT groups welcome Minister’s comments against bullying

Campaigners have welcomed the move 0 reader comments

A declaration against school bullying by Northern Ireland Education Minister John O’Dowd has been welcomed by LGBT campaigners.

The Rainbow Project and Cara-Friend, two of Northern Ireland’s leading LGBT support groups, praised Mr O’Dowd for announcing that his department would be bringing forward new anti-bullying legislation.

Replying to a question by fellow Sinn Fein Assembly Member Michaela Boyle on 23 June, Mr O’Dowd said: “The current legislation stipulates that every school has to have an anti-bullying policy.

“It is the quality and rigour of those anti-bullying policies that have been called into question, by research carried out by the Anti-Bullying Forum and by anecdotal evidence that has come to hand, which is one reason why I believe we have to move towards bringing tighter legislation to the House to protect young people from the impacts of bullying.”

In response, Jemma Irwin, Education Equality Officer for The Rainbow Project and Cara-Friend said: “We are delighted that the Minister has signalled his intention to bring forward new legislative anti-bullying measures.

“The Rainbow Project and Cara-Friend, through our joint education project,  have been very clear that in order for schools to effectively challenge all forms of bullying, including homophobic and transphobic bullying, there must be clear legislative requirements of what is expected of them.”

She added: “Minister O’Dowd has clearly demonstrated his commitment to tackling bullying and making schools safe environments for all young people and we look forward to engaging with his department to ensure the needs and expectations of LGB&T young people are met by this new legislation.”

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Gender reassignment to be legally recognised in Ireland for the first time

Joan Burton (Image: Wikicommons) Get the latest LGBT headlines in your inbox with our free daily newsletter! Join Topics TransgenderIrelandtrans rightsintersexgender recognitionrepublic of irelandJoan Burton 0 reader comments

A revision has been made to a bill approved by the Irish Cabinet which would change the minimum age from 18 to 16, for applications for a gender recognition certificate.

The bill would allow transgender people to have legal recognition of their gender in all dealings with the State, public bodies, and civil and commercial society

Joan Burton, the Irish Minister for Social Protection, this week announced that the proposed Gender Recognition Bill will be submitted for drafting and

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