Cash machines smashed in ‘homophobic’ attack for showing Pride messages
A set of cash machines have been smashed in Northern Ireland for displaying Pride messages.
On Friday, the cash machines outside of a branch of the Santander bank in the town of Lurgan were vandalised by having their screens smashed and anti-gay graffiti scrawled on them.
To celebrate Pride Month, Santander has displayed pro-LGBT messages on several of their cashpoints across the UK, using the hashtag #SantanderSupportsPride.
It is one of these screens that reportedly prompted the vandalism, causing the bank to condemn it as motivated by homophobia.
A Santander spokesperson told PinkNews: “We are appalled by this act of homophobic vandalism and have reported the incident to the police.
“Reflecting and celebrating diversity is something that is important to us as a bank and we are proud to show our support for the LGBT+ community and our colleagues participating in this year’s Pride events around the UK.”
Santander has made appearances at several Pride events across the UK, including the Birmingham Pride parade that took place in May.
Lurgan local Councillor Keith Haughian also hit back at the vandalism, which he stated was “driven by hatred.”
Cllr Haughian told the Portadown Times: “ATMs outside the Santander bank in Lurgan were smashed because messages of support for Pride were displayed on the screens.
“The bigots then scrawled anti-gay messaging on the machines. This is an attack driven by hatred and the culprits should face the full rigour of the law.”
Northern Ireland is currently embroiled in a bitter debate over equal marriage, as it is the only part of the UK that currently does not have same-sex marriage.
On Thursday, a cross-party group of Northern Irish politicians gathered at the third regional reception held by PinkNews this summer to debate LGBT+ topics from education to same-sex marriage.
Naomi Long, the leader of Northern Ireland’s Alliance Party, said at the event that the lack of LGBT rights and representation in the country was causing “personal suffering” to LGBT people.
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Speaking at the PinkNews summer reception in Belfast, she said: “Things in Northern Ireland are not as they should be for LGBT people.
“Rights are denied, equality is frustrated, and people are suffering personally as a result.”
She then paid tribute to the LGBT community despite the “fundamentally personal nature of the intrusion of denying you the right to marry the person you love.”
Long also criticised the lack of sex education in Northern Ireland and the failure to tackle homophobic bullying.