The National LGBT Federation (NXF) partnered with Dublin Pride again this year to co-host the annual NXF Dublin Pride Political Debate, which since its inception in 2014, has firmly established itself as one of the highlights of our Pride festivities.

This year’s panellists included the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman TD, who, in addition to his Ministerial responsibilities, is one of only three openly LGBTQ+ members of Dáil Éireann, Labour Senator and long-time LGBTQ+ ally Ivana Bacik, Fine Gael MEP and Co-Chair of the European Parliamentary LGBTQ+ group Maria Walsh, and Andrew Muir MLA, an openly gay man who represents the cross-community Alliance Party and who is very much to the fore in advancing equality in Northern Ireland.

The Debate explored the status of LGBTQ+ rights in Ireland and also in the wider European and global context. Among the issues for discussion was the clear need for robust and effective Hate Crime laws, to a complete ban on so-called ‘conversion therapy’ and the alarming attacks on LGBTQ+ communities we see in countries such as Hungary and Poland, where reactionary and autocratic governments target LGBTQ+ people as part of a wider assault on fundamental liberal democratic norms and values. Trans rights also featured and while we can be proud of Ireland being something of a “world leader” in affirming the right to self-determination, we know there is still much to do in terms of access to healthcare and recognition of non-binary, intersex and gender non-conforming citizens. In the UK, we are witnessing a disturbing anti-trans backlash, fuelled in a large part by a British press with plenty of form in anti-LGBTQ+ scare-mongering, and a Conservative

Government who, just like the infamous anti-gay crusades of the 1980’s and 1990’s, seem intent on weaponising transgender issues as part of a broader ‘culture war’. The National LGBT Federation was also pleased to lead a new addition to the Pride line-up of events with the NXF Pride Leaders Series which featured in-depth interviews with Taoiseach and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin TD, Tánaiste and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar TD and leader of Sinn Féin Mary Lou McDonald TD.

The interviews are a mix of the personal and the political with three of the State’s leading political figures, and provided an opportunity to gain a greater understanding of where the three ‘candidates’ for Taoiseach see the LGBTQ+ equality journey in 2021, their legislative priorities and commitments and finally an insight into their respective individual journey towards embracing equality for our Rainbow communities.

The NXF Pride Political Debate took place on Monday June 28 from 6-8.30pm and was the closing event of this year’s Dublin Pride Festival. Due to the ongoing pandemic, it was a virtual affair beamed live across NXF, Dublin Pride and GCN online platforms. This author was in the chair, proudly representing the NXF.

The NXF Pride Leaders Series interviews can be viewed on the same platforms.

Finally, the National LGBT Federation (NXF) wishes everyone a most joyous and safe Pride. We would also like to thank our outgoing Chair Caroline Keane for all her work over the past five years as she prepares to step down from her role.

We are also very excited to welcome a new group of Board members in 2021.

This article appears in the 367 Issue of GCN

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This article appears in the 367 Issue of GCN