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16 October 2014
BBC NI - Eyewitness

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Michael Campbell is constituency assistant to Alliance Party leader David Ford Image of Michael Campbell

Being gay in Northern Ireland is a little bit different to being gay in England. I've been gay in England, I am gay in Northern Ireland: no matter where I am, I'm gay. But I've experienced life in England and that's different. In England you don't get discriminated against quite as easily or quite as regularly. Here, the church plays a big part, the Christian church, whichever brand it is. In Northern Ireland you don't really find a liberal church, which is a bit sad. It's all conservative, it's all anti-gay. OK, there are pockets that are nice and you're welcome and that's fine, but that conservative Christian thought pervades everything - from your school where you won't hear the word 'gay' raised without the teacher going 'Oh, we can't talk about that' or 'Oh goodness, that's Section 28, we can't do that'. The teacher doesn't realise Section 28 doesn't apply here, so there's no bar on talking about it in schools but they still try to use it.

We've got a situation in Northern Ireland where you can be sacked from your job because you're gay and there is not a thing you can do about it, and that's wrong. I mean it's just part of me, I can't change me, and so lots of people hide the fact that they're gay. In the Agreement we've, well, they came up with something called Section 75 in the Northern Ireland Act which makes public authorities have to work towards equality on all sorts of issues like gender and sexual orientation, whether you have dependants or not, whether you're married or single. Race, political opinion…but that's only public authorities - private individuals, private organisations, schools - well, no, schools are really public, but still we can still manage it. 'No, not having you, you're gay', 'No, you're not coming in here, you're gay', and there's not a thing you can do.







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