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uganda's gay 'HIT LIST' makes me glad to be irish

ON Saturday night a list was read out in the Shelbourne Hotel. A list that included names such as Davina Devine, Fintan O'Toole, Darren Kennedy and Panti (inset). This list was the nominations for the GALAs 2014 – the Gay and Lesbian Awards.

The event, which has been running for several years, recognises people who have contributed positively to gay and lesbian issues in Ireland.

Compare this list to another list. One that was published 6,500km away in Uganda. Last week, a Ugandan tabloid newspaper published the "top 200 gays" the day after homosexuality was outlawed there.

This list serves to highlight those who are now living an illegal lifestyle and could be bullied, at the very least, or arrested. The list gave permission to the Ugandan public to make the lives of those 200 people a living hell.

I was disgusted and devastated that any country would pass such a law. In the 21st Century, how could this happen? But then I learned that Uganda is the 38th African country out of 54 where homosexuality is against the law. South Africa is the exception on the continent; same-sex marriages have been recognised there since 2006.

After further research, I see that there is a total of 83 countries where homosexuality is illegal.

GRATEFUL

If I had been born in any of these countries, my life would be at risk. I could not live an honest, open life. To have the luck of being Irish is something I am so grateful for.

The list of nominees at the GALAs contained people who have helped shaped this country from being one where same-sex couples had no right to civil partnership to one where marriage equality should happen very shortly.

Uganda and the other 82 countries offer a life of fear and persecution to gay and lesbian people. We Irish should be proud of our work towards equality and, where we need to, take it further.


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