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“What has happened to me is easy to condemn but will continue to happen as long as politicians and religious figures provide a thin veneer of acceptability for homophobia,” Mr. McCartney said. He considered the vicious attack on him would have long lasting and profound effects in a way that will be with him for a very long time. “It has also re-enforced a fear of crime within my community which needs to be addressed,” he pointed out. “This is not a minor issue that can readily be dismissed. It is un-arguably a wide-spread problem within our society. All PSNI (Police Service Northern Ireland) District Command Units have had incidents reported to them. The attack on me is one of hundreds that took place that year. “Homophobia has no boundaries and includes every aspect of criminality,” he continued. This includes extreme cases of violence and murder as well as lesser offences such as criminal damage and harassment. The common element between them is quite simply the motivation, which is intolerance of difference. “Tackling hate can not be achieved in isolation. Engagement on a community-wide basis is the only approach that promotes understanding aimed at breaking down barriers and celebrating diversity. “I appeal to anyone who is experiencing homophobia whether in your neighbourhood, social scene, in the workplace or on the streets to make your voice heard. Support is available. “Break the silence so that those responsible can be held accountable,” he urged.Technorati Tags: gay youth, lgbt, gay rights, united kingdom, northern ireland, homophobia, hate+crime