Northern Irish student bravely carries Pride flag on stage at graduation
For Northern Irish student Ciara Cinnamond, it was an excruciating dilemma.
At the same time the 23-year-old was graduating from Queen’s University Belfast this weekend, thousands were marching through the streets to call for same-sex marriage to be legalised.
So Ciara, who had her girlfriend in the audience, found a way to do both.
As she crossed the stage at the prestigious, gilded Whitla Hall to shake the acting vice-chancellor’s hand, Ciara unfurled a rainbow pride flag about as big as her.
The Sinn Fein supporter, who studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics, enjoyed applause and whooped responses from the audience as she carried her true colours across the stage.
Writing online, Ciara said: “Today I proudly graduated and walked across the stage with my pride flag, cheered on by my parents and my girlfriend Becky Miskimmin.
“On a day when I couldn’t make it to the #MarchForEquality, instead I showed my unwavering support to a packed Whitla Hall.
“I showed hundreds of people that I want the same rights as them.”
She added to followers that “nothing was stopping me from making a statement on the same day thousands marched for equal marriage”.
Protesters at the march held placards protesting the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which has repeatedly used peace process powers to block same-sex marriage legislation.
Last week, the Conservative Party signed a deal with the anti-LGBT party which will see the DUP’s 10 MPs support Theresa May’s minority government in key votes.
There was no mention in the agreement of LGBT rights, which Arlene Foster’s ultra-conservative Northern Irish party has constantly positioned itself against.
There have been five votes on same-sex marriage at Stormont, with the last one in November 2015 resulting in a vote in favour of legalisation – only for the DUP to rebuff the attempt.
Nevertheless, DUP leader Arlene Foster has denied that her party is homophobic, saying it just wants to protect the “traditional” definition of marriage.
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Neeson said: “We’ve had enough of a history in our society in Northern Ireland of discrimination, mistrust and hatred.
“Yet, we’re also an open-hearted, welcoming and terrific people.
“Let us show that to the world by treating gay, lesbian and transgender peoples as our brothers and sisters and allowing them to marry, if they so wish.”
See the full video below:
— Brendan Hughes (@brendanhughes64) July 2, 2017
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