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Martin McGuinness, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has officially launched this year's gay pride festival in his home city of Derry. The city's famous 'Free Derry' gable wall has been painted pink for the festival, which gets underway on August 13th. The organisers say there is also a serious side to the event and they will be trying to highlight their continuing battle for equality.
The week long event celebrates the cultural and political achievements of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans-gender community in the city. Mr McGuinness said the festival showed progress had been made in Derry. He praised the introduction of civil partnerships and new legislation banning discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.
Last year, there was an upsurge in homophobic attacks in Derry and Mr McGuinness says he hopes the gay pride festival will help educate people about the difficulties faced by gay people in all parts of Ireland. Last month, the Sinn Féin MP criticised comments in which Ian Paisley Jnr said he was repulsed by homosexual activity and gay people didn't care about the effect they had on society.
Launching the festival at the Rainbow Project in the city, Mr McGuinness said: "No-one should be discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation in the same way that it should not happen because of their age, race or indeed any other characteristic of their being. "The Office of the First and Deputy First Minister are committed to ensuring equality of opportunity for all our citizens."
Free Derry Corner was painted pink to coincide with Foyle Pride Week, which is being staged in the city next month for the first time in five years.
Clearly not everyone is of the same opinion of the event as Mr McGuinness, at the weekend, Free Derry corner was daubed with anti-gay graffiti.
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