Ireland's first LGBT History Festival has been launched at Belfast City Hall

Belfast city councillor Jeff Dudgeon and Senator David Norrisat the launch of LGBT History Festival at Belfast City Hall. Picture Matt Bohill.

IRELAND'S first LGBT History Festival has been launched at Belfast City Hall by the two men whose legal challenge in European Courts brought about the decriminalisation of male homosexuality.

The landmark rulings were won by UUP councillor Jeff Dudgeon and independent senator David Norris a decade apart (in 1982 and 1992 respectively).

Yesterday both men joined Lord Mayor Nuala McAllister to launch `Outing the Past, Belfast'.

Ms McAllister said it was a joint effort between Cara-Friend, Belfast City Council and the Ulster Museum.

"Recording and telling the story of the past is an important community-building exercise. This festival allows the LGBT community to become more aware of their heritage and historical struggles and achievements," she said.

A series of short paper presentations are taking place taking place in the Ulster Museum today between 10am-4pm covering subjects from LGBT emigration from Northern Ireland since the 1960s to love letters between British soldiers during WW2 and the media's portrayal of transgender people over the decades.

Festival organiser Declan Meehan said it is "important to recognise and chronicle the leaps and bounds we've made as a community".

"It's also important to look at where we've come from in order to move forward to address outstanding inequalities."

Outing the Past, Belfast is free and open to all.

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