The Pride mural in Portlaoise.
A Pride mural in Laois has been defaced just days ahead of the county's first Laois Pride festival.
The public mural in Lyster Square painted by Portarlington mural artist ADW, was installed last March, depicting a hand tattooed with a Pride loveheart holding a rainbow flag.
It has been defaced with the words 'f**k LGBTQ f**g*ts' in recent days.
Clive Davis is manager at Youth Work Ireland Laois, who manage the Midlands LGBT+ support group.
"It is utterly disgusting. For something that was there so long to be defaced with such vulgar language. Suddenly now when we are highlighting the need amongst people to feel at home in the county of Laois," he said.
He said that the artist is set to do an emergency repair of the mural, ahead of the historic first Laois Pride Parade this Saturday, September 17.
Portlaoise will also host a daytime family friendly party in Fitzmaurice Place and a drag show in Kavanaghs Pub that night.
The parade sets out from Fitzmaurice Place at middday to walk through the town, where many traders have put out rainbow flags in support of the first Laois Pride parade.
Clive explained the importance to the LGBT+ community in Laois, of holding the public pride events.
"It's more about people still in the closet, so that they can feel 'I can be myself in my own county'. Maybe a young person might walk by that mural, and if their friends laugh about it, it puts them even more back in the closet. It's about letting people come to terms with their identity and knowing there is a community out there for them," Clive said.
The Midlands LGBT+ Project support group made this announcement following the vandalism.
"We are sad to see that our beautiful mural has been vandalised on the week of the first ever Laois Pride. It is actions like this that reinforce the need for Pride and solidarity with the LGBT+ community, especially here in rural Ireland. We are posting it here its original form and are working hard to get it back to this for a wonderful Laois Pride parade this Saturday".
Midlands LGBT+ Project is an adults LGBTI+ awareness and support project for people in Laois, Offaly and Kildare. The Pride mural was funded by Healthy Ireland Laois to promote LGBT+ awareness and visibility.
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