LGBT+ History month preparations underway in Northern Ireland

09 Jan 2020

Plans for a LGBT+ History Month event in Northern Ireland have been finalised

(Eva Gore-Booth and her sister Countess Markievicz campaigning for the Barmaids Defence League in Manchester, 1908)

(Eva Gore-Booth and her sister Countess Markievicz campaigning for the Barmaids Defence League in Manchester, 1908)

We’ve now finalised plans for an LGBT+ History Month event in Northern Ireland on 6 February 2020 with an LGBT+ history tour of Hillsborough Castle.

Open to LGBT+ union networks including Prospect and the Bectu sector, the tour will cover everything from royal relationships and public scandals to political activism and evolving attitudes, right up to winning equal marriage rights this year.​

Our LGBT+ history is inspirational. We can’t allow it to be rewritten or forgotten, and instead we should use it as a launch pad for future activism.​ Stories like the legendary historical LGBT+ couple Esther Roper and Eva Gore-Booth who took part in a campaign to save the jobs of 100,000 barmaids in 1908, alongside Manchester based suffragists, social justice campaigners, organisers of women workers.

Esther Roper and Eva Gore-Booth formed the Barmaids Defence League to campaign against Winston Churchill’s proposed legislation to prevent women working in pubs. The 1908 Licensing Bill contained a rather controversial clause, ‘Clause 20’ which proposed that licensing justices could impose restrictions on publicans when renewing their licenses, including forbidding the employment of women.

Aided by Eva Gore-Booth’s sister, Countess Markievicz, they campaigned from the back of a carriage driven by four white horses in Manchester in defence of barmaids and against the election of a young Winston Churchill as MP. Winston Churchill was defeated and the ‘Ban the Barmaids Bill’ was dropped.

Claire Mullaly, digital rep (Scotland and Northern Ireland)

The free tour is limited to thirty places and is also open to LGBT+ networks from other unions. Prospect and Bectu sector members in Northern Ireland should book their place in advance, as spaces are filling up. Tea and coffee will be provided afterwards. 

If you would like to attend and can be in Hillsborough in Northern Ireland at 6pm on 6 February 2020, please contact LGBT+ Network organiser, Rob Lauder rob.lauder@prospect.org.uk.