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Mayor Mark Farrell and Cork, Ireland Mayor Tony Fitzgerald Annouce New Cooperative Agreement to Strengthen LGBTQ Rights

Mayor Mark Farrell and Lord Mayor Tony Fitzgerald of Cork, Ireland today signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will enhance ties and establish new relationships between the two cities’ Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) communities.

“San Francisco’s LGBTQ community has long been on the forefront of advancing critical civil rights issues—we are proud to partner with Cork to share and advance these ideals,” said Mayor Mark Farrell. “Compassion, empathy and inclusion are universal values, regardless of which side of the Atlantic you reside. By working with Cork and Lord Mayor Fitzgerald we can strengthen our collective LGBTQ communities while sharing our messages of hope with other cities across the globe.”

San Francisco and Cork, which are Sister Cities, will be working together to exchange best practices, programs and policies regarding critical LGBTQ issue. Additionally, the cities are partnering on a joint application for membership of the International Rainbow Cities Network. A successful application would result in San Francisco becoming the first U.S. city and Cork the first city of Ireland to secure membership. 

San Francisco has long been recognized for its support and commitment to LGBTQ residents and the City has encouraged other cities across the world to follow suit. In 2013, San Francisco gifted Cork a Rainbow Flag, and as a result, Cork became the first city in Ireland to fly the Rainbow Flag from a civic building. Cork was the only city in Ireland to include LGBTQ community members in their development plans to combat transphobia and homophobia and to host a LGBT community celebrations.

“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,” said Lord Mayor Fitzgerald “Mayor Farrell and I are privileged to lead harbor cities, our own motto references this: Statio Bene Fide Carinis – a good and safe harbor. Harbor 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.”

The partnership agreement is supported by San Francisco’s Mayor’s Office, Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, the San Francisco-Cork Sister City Committee, the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, the Office of Transgender Initiatives, the Social Inclusion Unit Cork City Council, and the Cork City LGBT Inter-Agency Steering Group.

"We are excited to strengthen our relationship with Cork,” said Clair Farley, Senior Advisor and Executive Director of the Office of Transgender Initiatives. “Like Cork, San Francisco is also a city of LGBTQ firsts, such as having the country’s first openly gay elected official, the first city-funded transgender employment program, and the country’s first Mayoral office dedicated to transgender and gender nonconforming issues. We are passionate about advancing policies and programs that support thriving LGBTQ communities, and we are excited to join this international effort for LGBTQ rights."

“We offer our sincere and heartfelt thanks to Mayor Farrell and Lord Mayor Fitzgerald for initiating a memorandum that champions solidarity and values the alliances which enable us to collaborate on LGBTI+ issues and choose hope over hate,” said Siobhan O’Dowd, of the LGBT Cork City Interagency Group.

“Cork has been a fabulous Sister to San Francisco and joining the Rainbow Cities Network together honors that bond,” said Supervisor Jeff Sheehy. “I met openly gay Irish Taoiseach/Prime Minister Leo Varadkar a few months ago, I was moved by the progress that Ireland has made in accepting its LGBT community and I welcome our shared Irish and LGBT heritages.”

The decision for both Cork and San Francisco to jointly join the Rainbow Cities Network stemmed from former Mayor Edwin M. Lee’s visit last fall to Cork City with the Sister City delegation.