THE CO-Chair of the new Gay Rights group in Lisburn says although he hopes the group will be well received within the community he said there is 'still a lot more work to be done' after one of those attending the event was verbally abused on the way home.
Mr Robert Toner gave his views following the launch of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender group at the Cherry Room at the Civic Centre on Thursday evening. "Clearly more work needs to be done," said Robert. "One of our members was verbally abused after leaving the centre. However, we are generally pleased how the launch went."
Up to 70 people attended including representatives of the SDLP, Sinn Fein, Children's Commissioner Patricia Lewsley, Lisburn Mayor Ronnie Crawford, Councillor Matthew McDermott, David Archer and Joann Gibson from the PSNI. Mr Toner said the group was formed to offer help and support to those in the community who are gay or bisexual, and he welcomed more people to contact them.
"One of the members of the group who had contacted us said he had been bullied at school and now since he joined with us he is a lot more confident," he said.
"Our aim is to offer help to people who for may feel isolated and give a choice to LGBT people in the Lisburn area."
Lisburn LGBT Group aims to provide information and support for people who identify or will come to identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgendered.
The group aims to achieve this through a range of activities and help provide a safe, secure and comfortable environment for members of the LGBT community to prosper. Since its formation in October the group, who have a manned telephone line each Thursday evening from 7pm to 9pm, have received two lewd text messages and phone calls. The four incidents in total have been reported to the police as part of the Hate Crime and the PSNI are dealing with the matter accordingly.
"We did not think that people would be so stupid as the calls can be traced and they have been reported to the police," added Robert.
Anyone who would like to join the group can ring on 0759-6164326. The phone is manned each Thursday evening from 7pm to 9pm and meetings are held fortnightly.
Anyone who would like to contact the group can also long onto their webiste on www.LGBTLisburn.com
The Lisburn LGBT group was formed in October 2008 and facilitated by the Coalition on Sexual Orientation (CoSO), with funding from the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister.