Cork City and San Francisco will today sign a historic Memorandum of Understanding to commit to working together on LGBTQI+ inclusivity.

Cork City has a strong track record of promoting LGBTQI+ inclusivity. In 2002 Cork City was the first municipal authority in Ireland to include an LGBTQI+ specific objective in its City Development Plan and to create an Inter-Agency Group to progress this.  San Francisco has long been recognized as a beacon of hope for its longstanding commitment to inclusion of its LGBTQI+ citizens and has supported and encouraged many other cities across the world to follow suit. A Rainbow Flag gifted by the City and County of San Francisco in 2013 allowed Cork City to become the first city on the island of Ireland to formally fly the Rainbow Flag from a civic or public building in 2014.

A key element of today’s agreement is the commitment of the two cities to become official members of the Rainbow Cities Network. San Francisco and Cork will take a joint stand for LGBTQI+ rights by seeking to be the first cities in their countries to join the Rainbow Cities global network of municipalities committed to protecting the rights of their LGBTQI+ citizens. Begun in 2011 by founding members Amsterdam, Barcelona, Cologne, and Turin, the Rainbow Cities Network currently includes 27 members from 15 countries, mainly in Europe but also Mexico, Brazil, and Turkey. The network members share best practices with each other on how to protect LGBT rights as well as promote and develop their local LGBT communities. It meets once a year in a different member city. The decision for both Cork and San Francisco to jointly pursue membership in the Rainbow Cities Network came out of the visit in September 2017 by a San Francisco sister city delegation.

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Lord Mayor Cllr Tony Fitzgerald welcomed this historic event saying:

“As Lord Mayor of Cork I’ve been delighted to lead this delegation to San Francisco and especially to sign a historic Memorandum which underscores the commitment each city has shown in creating inclusive and diverse Rainbow cities, and continuing our partnership with one another. Mayor Farrell and I are privileged to lead harbour cities, our own motto references this: Statio Bene Fide Carinis – a good and safe harbour. Harbour cities are open, welcoming and often a place of sanctuary. The memorandum we’ve signed extends that protection and openness in a very special way to LGBTQ communities and we have the assistance of the other signatories to make that a reality”.

San Francisco’s Mayor Mark Farrell said:

“San Francisco has a long and storied history of supporting our LGBTQ community and we are proud to share these values with our Sister City Cork. By exchanging our best practices, we can find innovative new measures to advance the needs of our LGBTQ residents. While our federal government wants to close doors to the world, San Francisco is embracing other cultures and nations with open arms. We are fortunate to have such an open and responsive sister city in Cork, and we look forward to working together on the crucial issues facing our LGBTQ community.”

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Mr. Paul Moynihan, Director of Services Cork City Council said:

“Cork City has always been to the fore in promoting LGBTQI+ inclusivity. We are proud to have been the first Local Authority in Ireland to fly the Rainbow Flag and to have supported the development of the only Interagency LGBT Group in Ireland. We have always had a very strong relationship with our Sister City San Francisco and today’s event marks another stage in that journey. The signing of the LGBTQI Memorandum of Understanding between both cities highlights our joint commitment to inclusivity and equality”.

Siobhan O Dowd, chairperson of the Cork LGBT Interagency Group said:

“In May 2014 the Rainbow Flag was raised formally over Cork City Hall, creating a little bit of history for us and also for San Francisco, since that flag was a gift from you. Today we’ve added to that history in signing the Memorandum; warm thanks to all who’ve enabled this to happen, Mayors Farrell and Fitzgerald and both councils, my colleagues on the inter-agency group and the Sister City Committee. Bród is the Irish word for pride, many deserve to share that bród today.”

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