Why is there a LGBT+ Campaign?
LGBT+ students experience some of the worst prejudice, discrimination and inequality in modern society. Their voices are not represented in Government, and so the LGBT+ Campaign exists in NUS-USI. The campaign is entirely autonomous, organised and consisting of only self-defining LGBT+ students. It is both run by and run for LGBT+ students.
The LGBT+ campaign seeks to support LGBT+ students, empower them, amplify their voices and give them a space to be themselves freely. At it’s heart the campaign is based on activism, on a never-ending fight for equality.
The LGBT+ campaign is headed by the LGBT+ officer, supported by the LGBT+ committee. Currently the committee meetings are held openly, an invitation extended to keen LGBT+ student activists and society leaders.
What does the LGBT+ campaign do?
Several things! In the current climate, the LGBT+ campaign is one of the campaigns that has the most work to do. To put it simply, here’s a list of areas that the LGBT+ campaign works on:
– Marriage Equality
– Gender Equality (ex. Gender Recognition Reform)
– Trans Rights and Representation
– Combating the Mental Health Crisis
– Creation and Maintenance of Safe Spaces
– Supporting Clubs and Societies
– Empowering LGBT+ students
– Ending the Blood Ban
– Being Truly Representative
A short summary of each of these areas is included below.
Why is the LGBT+ campaign important?
It is all the more important now that we stand together, united in the fight for equality. There is so much more to the campaign than same-sex marriage, it is a vitally important movement. Every single person is affected by the issues that LGBT+ students face, every single person is part of this fight, whether they know it or not. The job of the LGBT+ campaign is to inspire, to empower and to get people involved, to give people hope and to let them know that someone is in their corner fighting for them. I want LGBT+ students to know that there are complete strangers out there actively fighting on their behalf, trying to make this world a better place, and that doesn’t stop at marriage equality and it certainly doesn’t stop at Northern Ireland. The LGBT+ campaign is important because it’s about hope.
– Marriage Equality: The campaign for civil marriage equality in Northern Ireland aims to achieve exactly that – legislative marriage equality. The last place in Western Europe to not have same-sex marriage, the fight is all the more important here in Northern Ireland, where the lack of this legislation acts as a symbol of discrimination. The LGBT+ Officer and NUS-USI President are members of the Love Equality coalition executive.
– Gender Equality: The right to bodily autonomy is vitally important, not only to cisgender women but also to transgender, non-binary and intersex individuals. The campaign aims to move beyond the outdated concept of binary genders, and seeks to push for legislative reform which can support rather than alienate people. The push for gender neutral bathrooms are also a large part of this campaign.
– Trans Rights: This directly ties into the campaign for gender equality, however also includes creating an awareness about the reality of being a trans, non-binary or intersex person in Northern Ireland. This campaign aims directly to support trans students, to empower them and to raise the point that transgender students must be included in the fight for their rights and that no cisgender voice speaks over theirs.
– Combating the Mental Health Crisis: The LGBT+ campaign aims to tackle the dire situation that LGBT+ people’s mental health is in, in Northern Ireland. With roughly a quarter of LGB people and over half of trans people here attempting suicide, there is no question if there is indeed a crisis or not. The LGBT+ campaign seeks to tackle the crisis, to address the issue honestly and frankly, to educate, raise awareness and most of all work to support LGBT+ students, granting them a space, a voice, a helping hand and most importantly, hope.
– Creation and Sustenance of Safe Space and Supporting Clubs and Societies: LGBT+ clubs and societies are vitally important, they offer a safe space and a healthy environment for LGBT+ students who may otherwise feel isolated and excluded in college or university. As it stands, few exist, however recently there has been a greater push for societies. The LGBT+ campaign recognises the vital role of clubs and societies, aiming to include them in all areas of work and support them as much as possible.
– Empowering LGBT+ Students: An important part of the LGBT+ campaign is working to prop up LGBT+ students, show them that they can hold positions of responsibility and authority and help them to grow in confidence and one day take charge in the fight for their own rights and in the fight for equality. This includes meeting students, providing spaces and offering them opportunities to use their voice.
– Ending the Blood Ban: The blood ban in Northern Ireland has only very recently changed from a lifetime ban to a 12 month ban. However, this ban is still discriminatory simply due to its existence and lack of scientific basis behind the legislation. Whether lifetime or 12 month, the ban is still essentially permanent for the majority of LGBT+ people. This legislation is, much like the lack of marriage equality or gender recognition legislation, a symbol of discrimination based on nothing but prejudice. The LGBT+ campaign aims to end the ban.
– Being Truly Representative: An important part of the LGBT+ campaign is acknowledging that no single individual is capable of representing every other individual accurately. To combat this and make sure more voices are both represented and heard, the LGBT+ campaign aims to ensure that every LGBT+ students voice is heard and taken into account, for example that trans students are consulted and empowered to work on trans issues alongside the LGBT+ officer. Representation is vital.
The LGBT+ campaign aims to include all LGBT+ officers and students. Your voice matters, and the LGBT+ campaign is always eager to hear you. You are invited along to committee meetings, you may join facebook groups, sign up for the LGBT+ mailing list, or attend events which are advertised. You may also speak directly to the LGBT+ officer wherever and whenever you want.
How involved you get is entirely up to yourself. You can be involved in organising every little thing or simply turn up to voice your opinion about matters. Any involvement is vital involvement, and you are always more than welcome.
LGBT+ campaign – useful contacts
NUS-USI LGBT+ officer: Conor Loughran
GenderJam NI / SAIL NI / Non – Binary NI – GenderJam NI exists to support transgender, non-binary and intersex youths between the ages of 16 and 25. SAIL is a support group aimed at families of transgender individuals, as well as supporting transgender individuals who are in need of help, support or advice. Non-Binary NI is directly at non-binary individuals. All of these organisations are headquartered in the Belfast Trans Resource Centre and share all of their resources.
They organise meetings and social gatherings in a variety of locations, where they can talk and discuss our collective experiences in a private, confidential and supporting environment. They are also available to meet and talk one-to-one in a location in which you feel comfortable, or simply to talk over the telephone.
If you would like to come to a meeting or if you would just like to talk to someone about gender issues please contact Ellen Murray at ☎ 02890996819 or email her at 📧 firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Belfast Trans Resource Centre is open during weekdays and any trans, non-binary or intersex student may drop in. The address is: Belfast Trans Resource Centre, 98 University Street, Belfast BT7 1HE
Cara-Friend – Cara-Friend was established in 1974 as a voluntary counselling, befriending, information, and social space organisation for the LGBT community. Since then, we have established ourselves as one of the most encompassing organisations in Northern Ireland, bringing together LGBT men, women, and young people. We participate in as many community activities as we can possibly have time for, as well as lobbying on behalf of the LGBT community with government and other organisations.
☎: 028 9027 8636
A: Belfast LGBT Centre, 9-13 Waring Street, Belfast, BT1 2DX
The Rainbow Project – The Rainbow Project was founded in 1994 in response to the HIV/AIDS crisis in Northern Ireland. Since our beginnings we have developed in an LGBT organisation with the aim of promoting the health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Northern Ireland.
☎: 028 90319030
A: LGBT Centre, 9-13 Waring Street, Belfast, BT1 2DX
Here NI – Here NI is a community organisation and registered charity based in Belfast. We’re here to support lesbian and bisexual women and our families and improve the lives of L& B women across Northern Ireland. We do this in lots of different ways; through providing information; developing support networks in rural areas and towns; facilitating training; lobbying government and agencies on your behalf; offering a community space for meeting and much more.
☎: 028 9024 9452
A: Belfast LGBT Centre, 9-13 Waring Street, Belfast, BT1 2DX
So Me (Sexual Orientation More Equality) – So Me (Sexual Orientation More Equality)is an Equality Commission for Northern Ireland initiative for Lesbian Gay and Bi sexual (LGB) people and anyone who thinks LGB people should have the right to live a life free from discrimination. If you have been treated unfairly because of your sexual orientation at Work, in School, College or University or while using services, or know someone who has please get in touch with us and report it. We can help you and we offer free and confidential information and advice. We also operate a 9-5 Monday to Friday free enquiry service via 02890 500600 or alternatively you can chat anonymously with the So Me team via our website www.some-ni.co.uk, just click on the live chat icon at the bottom right hand side of the screen, type in your question and a member of the team will help you.
1 in 2 gay, lesbian and bisexual people feel they are being treated badly in NI today but over 80% don’t report it. Use your voice!
☎: 02890 500 600
Twitter: @So_MeNI W:www.SoMe-NI.co.uk