Tag Archives: Ireland

Northern Ireland Same-Sex Couples Are Being ‘Left Behind’ On Equal Marriage

We are only a couple of months away from same-sex weddings in Ireland, after the Republic of Ireland’s Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald brought forward a Marriage Bill, following the country overwhelmingly voted in favour of equality in a public referendum on same-sex marriage.


However, the same cannot be said for Northern Ireland, where marriage equality continues to be blocked.

The Democratic Unionist Party has vetoed equality bills in the Stormont assembly four times, using powers granted by the country’s peace agreement to file a ‘petition of concern’ on the issue.

Amnesty International has now stepped, and spoken out against the country’s continuing ban on same-sex marriage.

Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland Programme Director of Amnesty International, said:

The move by the Irish government is a welcome step towards equality for same-sex couples in the Republic of Ireland.

However, it also underlines the extent to which Belfast has been left behind by London, Dublin, Edinburgh and Cardiff when it comes to equality for gay people.

Soon Northern Ireland will be the only part of the UK or Ireland where the government bans same-sex couples from getting married and refuses to recognise same-sex marriages conducted elsewhere on these islands.

Most people in Northern Ireland want to live in a country where unequal laws are consigned to the history books. If Northern Ireland’s politicians continue to fail on equal rights to civil marriage, then it will be left to the Courts.”

In a bid to break the deadlock on the issue, the UK Labour Party recently called for Northern Ireland to follow in the footsteps of the Republic of Ireland, by holding a binding public referendum on the issue.

A number of leading LGBT groups in Northern Ireland have rejected Labour’s calls for a referendum on same-sex marriage.

In a joint statement, a number of LGBT organisations – The Rainbow Project, HereNI, Cara-Friend, SAIL and Gender Jam NI – said that the idea of putting equality to a public vote was fundamentally wrong, and that their resources are better spent helping LGBT people than running an election campaign.


While the Republic of Ireland needed to make constitutional changes to permit same-sex marriage, requiring a referendum, the groups say equality can be passed in Northern Ireland through normal legislation – as was the case in England, Wales and Scotland.

The joint statement said:

We greatly appreciate the time taken by the Shadow Secretary of State to meet with our sector.

We welcome any and all opportunities to speak with political leaders about the state of LGB&T equality in Northern Ireland and Ivan was very willing to listen to our objectives and concerns not only on marriage equality but on wider issues of homophobia, transphobia, health care provision and education. We hope to continue these engagements with Ivan and his party colleagues.

However, we fundamentally disagree with Labour’s suggestion that the on-going and unlawful denial of the right to marry for LGB&T people in Northern Ireland should or could be resolved by a public referendum.

Of course we were delighted to see the ‘yes’ victory in the Republic of Ireland and many of us were deeply involved with that campaign but it would be inappropriate to suggest that the referendum campaign could be replicated in the North.

We believe that the current patchwork of marriage laws across the UK is wrong and that it went wrong in Westminster.

Not only did the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act create the untenable situation where some marriages are only recognised in some regions of the UK but it placed unacceptable burdens on trans individuals to seek the permission of their spouse in order to access legal recognition of their gender.

We believe that, were a referendum to be called, equality would win – but it is wholly unacceptable to expect the LGB&T community in Northern Ireland, in the face of the most organised opposing forces in the UK, to secure a win in a referendum which would not be proposed in any other region of the UK.”

Irish Court Rejects ‘Pointless’ Legal Challenge Stalling The First Same-Sex Weddings

The Court of Appeals in the Republic of Ireland has rejected a challenge to the marriage referendum, which was delaying the first same-sex weddings.

In May, the Republic of Ireland became the first country in the world to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote.

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Following the landslide victory, Irish justice minister Frances Fitzgerald promised to implement the law as soon as possible, saying:

I am very conscious that many couples will want to get married as soon as possible. I am working to make that happen.”

However, attempts to implement weddings as soon as possible were hindered when multiple people launched nuisance legal challenges, in an attempt to stall further.

The Court of Appeals heard arguments today – and unsurprisingly found that the referendum was valid.

After eight hours, the Court of Appeals dismissed the challenges to the referendum and lifted a stay on action.

Activists celebrated the decision, and derided the “pointless” challenges.

However, the complainants still have 28 days to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court, if they want to attempt to stall equality further.

Poll Finds Nearly 70% of Northern Irish People Support for Sam-Sex Marriage, Despite Political Opposition

A new poll has shown that support for the legalisation of gay marriage in Northern Ireland currently sits at almost 70%, despite a recent Northern Ireland Assembly motion to recognise it being voted down.

Despite the introduction of same-sex marriage in England, Scotland and Wales, the DUP government in Northern Ireland continues to block all legislation on the issue.

However, a poll has this week found that same-sex marriage has overwhelming popular support.

The Ipsos MORI survey found 68% of people in the country now support same-sex marriage – even higher than the 62.1% who voted ‘Yes’ in the Republic of Ireland.

Support is much higher among young people, with 82% of 16 to 34-year-olds and 75% of 35 to 54-year-olds supporting same-sex marriage.

There was a large division in support for same-sex marriage along religious lines – Ipsos MORI found that 75 per cent of Catholics supported it, compared to 57 per cent of Protestants.

When broken down by party support, Sinn Fein voters were most likely to support same-sex marriage, with 80 per cent being in favour.


Even among DUP supporters, 45% of people disagree with their own party’s stance on the issue.

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland programme director, said:

The people have spoken and it’s clear they don’t want Northern Ireland to be left behind on marriage equality. This poll shows support in Northern Ireland for equal marriage is even higher than in Ireland’s landslide referendum.

Northern Ireland’s politicians are badly out of step with the people on marriage equality. Continuing resistance to bringing Northern Ireland in step with all our neighbours is unacceptable. It’s high time Northern Ireland said a big ‘we do too’ to equality.

The Stormont Executive should bring forward marriage equality legislation without further delay.”

However, even though support in Northern Ireland is currently much higher than both of these figures, it seems unlikely that a motion to recognise it would pass in the Assembly while the DUP continue to oppose it.

Northern Ireland is currently the only nation in the UK where same-sex marriage is not allowed.



JK Rowling Takes on Westboro Baptist Church on Twitter (and its Brilliant)

Once again JK Rowling  has demonstrated her considerable talent for shutting down Twitter haters.

This time she is taking on the Westboro Baptist Church who have objected to her recent comment on Ireland’s vote for marriage equality.

Early this week, Rowling tweeted of a fictional wedding of Harry Potter character Dumbledore and the Lord of the Rings wizard Gandalf.

Her joke was quickly pounced on by social media accounts affiliated with the Westboro Baptist Church, who had been tweeting homophobic messages “reminding” Ireland of its slogan.

The Kansas-based church has picketed Ground Zero, the funeral of soldiers and celebrities such as Michael Jackson in the past and threatened to picket Robin Williams’ funeral after saying the actor is “going to hell” and was “hated by God”.


Never one to ignore hate-speech circulating on social media, Rowling responded excellently:

When challenged by a Twitter user for giving the Church “counter-productive” attention, Rowling insisted it is important to confront hate speech in all forms.

After Same-Sex Marriage Victory in Ireland, Germany’s Green Party Call for Chancellor to Follow Suit

After the same-sex marriage victory in Ireland, Germany’s Green Party is calling for Chancellor Angela Merkel to follow suit.

The Republic of Ireland overwhelmingly voted to introduce same-sex marriage in a referendum last week, with 62.1% voting in favour and 37.9% voting against.


Chancellor Merkel is facing calls for her Grand Coalition government to catch up and introduce equality.

Germany allows same-sex couples to enter into registered life partnerships that provide some of the benefits of marriage – but the Chancellor’s CDU/CSU coalition continues to oppose same-sex marriage.

Opposition Green leader Katrin Göring-Eckardt told Die Welt:

The Merkel faction cannot just sit out the debate on marriage for all. I am confident that the Irish vote will accelerate equality in Germany. This is a great signal from Ireland. Equal love deserves equal respect.”

Jens Spahn, of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party, also expressed hope despite his party’s opposition.

What the Catholic Irish can do, we can do, too … The populace is often further along in these matters than we think.”

Political leaders in a number of other countries – including Northern Ireland, Australia and Italy – are also calling on their governments to follow suit.

Ireland Says #YES to Equality

Following a higher than expended turnout to the non-compulsory vote, the amendment to extend the right to marry to all couples regardless of gender will be passed with a decisive 2-to-1 majority across the republic.

Voters were asked to approve an amendment to the Irish Constitution that states: “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.”


Making same-sex marriage legal requires a change to the constitution – that in Ireland can only be passed through a referendum.

Polling has consistently shown that at least 60 percent of people planned to vote in favour of equality, but campaigners warn that projections could be unreliable, as was seen in the recent UK Parliamentary elections.

The result goes to show there’s no “silent majority” against marriage equality. Even the most vocal anti-marriage equality campaigner was swift to realise his defeat, and gracious in doing so.

Many marriage equality activists across the globe advise against using a referendum to decide a minority civil rights issue – but when the numbers fall in our favour this compellingly, it sends them a clear message about the population’s sense of fairness.

Ireland has today proved it has come a long way on gay and lesbian rights in a relatively short time – homosexuality was illegal there until as late as 1993.

Earlier this year, an amendment was passed to make it possible for Irish same-sex couples to jointly adopt a child. Now we keenly await the first same-sex couples’ chance to walk down the aisle together.

Irish People From Around the World are Going #hometovote on Same-Sex Marriage Referendum.

Today Ireland votes on the referendum on same-sex marriage. If it passes, it will become the first country to introduce the legislation by popular vote.


Because of Irish voting laws, expats aren’t allowed to vote today unless they’re actually in the country.

Refusing to let go of their say because of a technicality, lots and lots of people have been going back to Ireland over the past 24 hours so they can vote today.


They’ve been documenting their trip with the hashtag #hometovote.



The Mural of a Lesbian Couple Placed on the Side of a Castle in Co Galway, Ireland

A new mural depicting two women has appeared on the side of Caherkinmonwee Castle in Co Galway, which is in private owned castle.

The artwork, in the same style as the male version painted in Dublin earlier this year.

The Dublin mural, which went up on the side of a building overnight at the start of April, was designed as a “poignant representation of same sex love in the city”. It became a focal point of the debate about same-sex marriage – with some No campaigners calling for it to be taken down. The biodegradable artwork was damaged by weather at the end of last month – although parts of it still remain in place.



Watch: Beautiful Couples Who Have Been Together For Years Talk About Love

Support for marriage equality doesn’t just come from same sex couples – it comes from individuals who believe in equality for everyone.

Watch as real couples and families share their stories and explain why marriage matters to them.


Watch | Touching Marriage Equality Ad Encourages Families to Vote ‘Yes’ for Irelands Equality Referendum

Irish LGBT youth and parents coalition are calling for a ‘Yes’ vote in the forthcoming marriage equality referendum in Ireland.

The referendum on marriage equality is only a few weeks away, and the new campaign focuses on encouraging people to talk to their family about the issue.

As polling day approaches, this newest ad asks people to make sure that they bring their family with them to vote on the day, and has a touching storyline in it too, just for good measure.

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Securing marriage equality is hugely important for LGBT young people, in particular,” said Mr. Barron.  “Too many LGBT young people experience difficult times growing up and know they don’t enjoy equal rights.  If marriage equality is not passed, we reconfirm to them that their all too common experiences of homophobic bullying and rejection are acceptable in Ireland.  This would be a devastating outcome. 

Many LGBT young people don’t have a voice because they’re still too young to vote but the outcome of this referendum will deeply affect their lives.  They really want their parents and older relatives to campaign for and vote ‘yes’.

The organisations involved in ‘BeLonG To YES’ will work together over the coming weeks to encourage young people to talk to their parents about supporting the referendum, and then have their parents talk to family, friends and colleagues to pass on that message.  We must not forget that this is a nationwide referendum and reaching out to people in rural areas is paramount, because it is in these communities that this referendum will be won.

Marriage equality affects not only today’s adults, but also today’s children and the children of the future. We are delighted, and we see it as very positive, that our ‘Yes’ campaign has the support of a large coalition of youth and children’s groups.

We have seven weeks to do right by our young people and ensure Ireland becomes a country where no young person has to suffer because of their sexuality.  Just imagine what will be possible for future generations of LGBT young people when their future begins with a resounding ‘yes’.”


30% Of Gay And Bisexual Employees In Ireland Have Faced Discrimination

In a survey conducted in 2013, 73% of people in the Republic of Ireland said that “same sex marriage should be allowed in the Constitution” and in 2008, 84% said that they supported same-sex marriage rights and/or civil partnerships.

However, just because most of a country is in favour of marriage equality, it doesn’t mean that it is an all round tolerant one. Like many places in the world, progressive thinking is let down by pockets of anti-LGBT opinions.

The attitudes towards LGBT people have improved greatly in Ireland over the past few years but the predominantly Catholic country does trail behind some of its European brethren. For example, in the UK homosexuality became decriminalised between 1967 and 1982 but it took until 1993 for the same to happen in ROI.

Perhaps that fact is why it appears to have taken much longer for discrimination to be phased out of the Irish workplace. Although “most” forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation are illegal in the country, a new study deems that some people ignore this and that many gay and bisexual employees continue to face discrimination.

According to the survey, a massive 30% of gay and bisexual workers in Ireland have faced discrimination. While full details weren’t provided, we do know that the discrimination involved harassment and in 1 in 10 cases, the employee chose to quit their jobs over it.

Those figures are astonishing (again, since Ireland’s laws forbid this type of behaviour) and so the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) is launching Ireland’s very first Workplace Equality Index.

As explained by Director of Workplace Diversity at GLEN, Davin Roche in a statement below, GLEN’s new initiative will inform people on which employers are the most LGBT-friendly and will also encourage those who are failing to do more to be inclusive:

“Research in Ireland and internationally has found, unfortunately, far too many LGBT employees have experienced harassment at work or have quit a job because of discrimination and we know that many LGBT employees are not comfortable disclosing their sexual orientation at work. We know this can be detrimental to LGBT employees but also has a negative impact for employers.”

Having launched on February 10th, 2015, it’s still incredibly early days just yet, but we will keep you posted once we know more.


Out Irish Senator Katherine Zappone Calls For Marriage Equality In Ireland

Senator Katherine Zappone, who is one of Ireland’s only out lesbian senator, has been campaigning for equal marriage in Ireland for more than a decade.


In a video for Ireland’s Marriage Equality campaign, she says the country “stands poised to become a beacon of freedom” if it passes equal marriage and that there “is an opportunity for Ireland to make history in 2015”.

“To make sure we embrace this historic moment, it’s important that you speak with your families, friends, colleagues and neighbours about why marriage equality is important to you.”

Senator Katherine Zappone

Senator Zappone married her partner, Ann Louise Gilligan, in Canada during 2003.

In 2006, the High Court in Dublin rejected recognition of their marriage, stating that marriage could only be defined between members of the opposite sex.

A referendum on legalising the reform will be held in May.

‘Yes’ Campaign Launches in Ireland Ahead of Equal Marriage Referendum

The Republic of Ireland, which introduced civil partnerships in 2011, is set to vote next May on extending civil marriage to same-sex couples, with early polls suggesting a landslide victory for equality.

To ensure all things go to plan, the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, and Marriage Equality Ireland joined together to launch the ‘Yes Equality’ campaign.

Irish referendums have a history of unpredictability in the country, due to a combination of low turnouts and powerful religious lobbies.

The voter registration drive will be run in conjunction with the hundreds of local community groups, as well as through trade unions, the Union of Students in Ireland, and students’ unions.

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Irish hurler Eoin Murphy, who has thrown his weight behind the campaign, said:

“Next year we will have an important referendum on civil marriage equality. We want to make sure that no one misses the opportunity to have their voice heard on polling day. We are asking people to join us in registering to vote so that they can be part of creating a fairer Ireland for all.”

Eoin Murphy

Activist Joanne O’Riordan said:

“Younger voters in this referendum have the chance to make a real difference. This voter registration campaign is a critical first step in getting the vote out. We cannot afford to miss a single vote and if you’re not registered you can’t vote for civil marriage equality.”

Joanne O’Riordan

Young People in Ireland Come Together to Eliminate Homophobia

Yesterday, Ireland’s Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn launched the fifth annual Stand Up! campaign against homophobic and transphobic bullying campaign. The is campaign organised by BeLonG To, a national organisation for LGBT young people.

Lately, Irish people have shown a very strong level of support for the LGBT community. At BeLonG To they received phone calls, letters and donations from people who were moved by hearing about the injustices we experience and the harm caused by generations of hostility – people who want a better, more just Ireland.

However, there has been an attempt to reduce the conversation over the past months to a debate about same-sex marriage. It is convenient for those who oppose equality to frame this as a defence of “traditional” marriage. This opposition, supported by generations of ingrained structural homophobia, continues to affect LGBT people’s rights to equal education, housing, employment, healthcare and, of course, safety from violence.

LGBT teenagers are the most likely to experience homophobia. Research shows most experience homophobia in school and most teachers recognise the problem. It also shows there is a direct relationship between experiences of homophobia in adolescence and poor mental health, including attempted suicide.

At BeLonG To we have spent a decade working to change this and to analyse why homophobia is so prevalent and damaging among young people. One reason is the strict gender policing young people are subjected to – young men must act like “real” men and young women must learn to be conventionally desirable women. Homophobia is one stick used to beat those who don’t conform.

Another reason is in the nature of the Irish education system. The enduring influence on it of the Catholic Church is perhaps nowhere more clearly articulated than in the exceptionalist bias of Irish employment legislation. At present, section 37.1 of the Equality Employment Act allows religious institutions to discriminate in the hiring and promotion of staff in order to uphold their religious ethos.

Being openly LGBT can, therefore, be legitimate grounds for not hiring or promoting staff in denominational schools. This has created a situation whereby LGBT teachers fear coming out and being role models. In schools the negative consequences of section 37.1 affect the way in which sexuality is discussed, and whether homophobic bullying is challenged and LGBT students are supported. While Catholic-maintained schools can be run in a way that is inclusive of LGBT young people, it is clear they are often alienated within such environments.

However, significant change is happening. In 2013 the Department of Education published the first national action plan on bullying, which prioritises actions to combat homophobic and transphobic bullying. It states that a school’s ethos cannot and should not be a barrier to respecting and valuing LGBT members of the school community or tackling homophobic bullying. New mandatory anti-bullying procedures oblige all schools to take proactive, educational measures to create cultures that are safe for LGBT young people. A curriculum on LGBT identity is now taught, and the Department of Education co-sponsors the Stand Up! campaign.

We can now work to make schooling the transformative experience it should be. Schools can be places where young people learn to think for themselves, embracing and respecting the reality that we live in a fascinating diverse society. Working with children and young people we can eliminate any stigma attached to being LGBT and end homophobia.