NXF to mark 40 years of advocacy in Ireland

Adam Long from NXF speaks about a special event to mark the organisation's 40th anniversary, featuring a panel discussion with activists who shaped LGBT+ rights in Ireland.

A group of LGBT+ activists, including NXF founders, demonstrating on the streets of Dulbin

The National LGBT Federation (NXF), publishers of GCN, have been marking our 40th anniversary this year, and a fitting end to those celebrations takes place tomorrow – Thursday, December 12. We will gather for NXF40: An Evening of Chat and Celebration. The highlight of the evening being a panel discussion featuring names well known to LGBT+ people and their allies.

Equality stalwarts such as Senator David Norris, who, in addition to forcing the Irish State to finally decriminalise homosexuality, was also a founding member of what was then the National Gay Federation (NGF), will speak. Senator Norris will be joined on stage by prominent feminist and LGBT+ campaigner Ailbhe Smyth, who has been honoured internationally for her stellar advocacy, particularly around the stunningly successful campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment, Tonie Walsh, Curator of the Irish Queer Archive, and Majella Breen, founder of Lesbian Line and an early NGF member. I will be representing the current board in my Advocacy and Communications role, while my fellow board member, Dr Mary McAuliffe, will chair proceedings.

Attendees will be treated to hearing directly from some of the key actors in Irish society’s journey from being a ‘cold house’ for anyone seeking progressive social change to one that is now beginning to resemble a modern Republic – although much work remains on that front.

We will also be honouring those historical figures who helped pave the way towards a more enlightened society. People such as the late Dr Noel Browne, who was the first Irish parliamentarian to call for gay law reform (in 1977) and who was one of the few political figures present at the official opening of the NGF run Hirschfeld Centre – Dublin’s first full-time LGBT+ community space which existed from 1979-87 and served as a vital support resource for a community criminalised and excluded by wider Irish society. Former President Mary McAleese was another early LGBT+ ally at a time when such a stance was far from politically popular or fashionable.

Unfortunately due to another commitment, Mary McAleese could not accept our panel invitation but was keen to express her support for the event and how LGBT+ equality advocacy remains as vital as ever, referencing, in particular, the disturbing findings of the recently published BeLonG To survey into the experiences of LGBT+ young people.

As the National LGBT Federation (NXF) confidently and determinedly approaches a new decade, we believe this #NXF40 retrospective will not only be a celebratory affair but will also help to sustain and encourage us in confronting the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.   

GCN will be covering proceedings on the night, which will be opened by NXF Chair Caroline Keane.

The event is booked but you will be able to follow the panel via Twitter through the hashtag #NXF40.

© 2019 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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