Irish organisation BelonG To are moving from strength to strength, and have launched its first Friends of BelonG To organisation in the UK.
Friends of BelonG To is an international network of individuals committed to supporting LGBT young people reach their full potential in Ireland and internationally. The network helps BeLonG To tackle homophobia and transphobia in schools and the wider community.
BeLonG To Youth Services, founded in 2003, is the national organisation for lesbian, gay, bisexual & trans young people. BeLonG To provides support services to LGBT young people, their families and professionals who work with LGBT youth through out nationwide network of 22 locations across Ireland.
Speaking at an event at the Irish Embassy in London to celebrate the work of BeLonG To, its Founding Director Michael Barron said:
“We have come a long way in Ireland when it comes to LGBT rights. When we began in 2003 young people’s sexuality and gender identity were still taboo issues and there was widespread opposition to what we were doing. Our first anti-homophobia bullying campaign was greeted with the newspaper headline “Church anger as gay campaign targets schools” and it was next to impossible to work with some state institutions. Today we now have support across state bodies, encompassing all political parties and Ireland is becoming one of the most progressive countries in the world for LGBT young people to grow up in. We are very grateful to the Ambassador, Mr Daniel Mulhall and the Irish Embassy in London for their support and for hosting this event”
It’s taken us many years of chipping away at what former President Mary McAleese described as ‘the architecture of homophobia’, often in challenging and difficult circumstances. The experience and know-how we have
developed over more than 10 years makes us uniquely placed to work with organisations in other countries who are facing similar challenges. We are now starting the process of sharing this learning and we are sure that the creation of our international friends network will make an enormous contribution to this work. Having so many friends in the UK and with such a well established Irish community, London was a natural launch pad for our international supporters network.”
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