Showing posts with label Ireland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ireland. Show all posts

August 29, 2019

The LGBT Asylum Seekers in Ireland Face Surmountable Obstacles In Getting To Dream Land

By Cormac O'Brien
DUBLIN, Ireland, June 22 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - When Afef arrived in Ireland from Tunisia in early 2015 she could not believe her luck at being able to go safely to gay bars and be open about her sexuality.
In her home country she had been forced to hide the fact that she was a lesbian from her family, her friends and, most importantly, from the authorities as same-sex relationships are illegal in Tunisia and punishable by three years imprisonment.
When her disapproving brother found out she was gay she was forced to flee.
"It's something prohibited, forbidden and unforgivable, and going back I can get attacked by my brother," Afef told the Thomson Reuters Foundation at a meeting for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) asylum seekers in Dublin.
"That's my past and it's not a good past. Here you have total freedom."
Afef, a slight woman aged in her mid-20s, is one of a rising number of LGBT people in Ireland seeking asylum due to fears of being persecuted for their sexuality in their home countries.
Ireland made history in 2015 as the first country to legalize gay marriage by a popular vote, with 62 percent voting in a referendum in favor of gay marriage in the Irish Republic that was once dominated by the Catholic Church.
Ireland this month formally elected its first openly gay prime minister, Leo Varadkar.
But the asylum seekers find their bids to build new lives in Ireland keep hitting obstacles, getting bogged down in a slow, laborious system that has been criticized both domestically and internationally with proposed changes slow to take effect. 
Asylum seekers applying for refugee status in Ireland are provided with accommodation and food at hostels known as direct provision centers and given a weekly stipend of about 20 Euros ($22) but they are cannot work or access further education.
Afef, who did not want to use her full name for fear of reprisals, said this made it difficult to settle and become financially stable as the process could take years and the lack of transparency in the system was a massive frustration.
"If they say within two years, you get your answer and finish the whole process it's fine. But some people can spend 10 years and some people can spend one. Basically, you know nothing," she said at a meeting of the Identity LGBT Refugee Support group at the Irish Refugee Council.
Hailing from Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Gambia and Tunisia, all of the 35 regular members of the group are claiming asylum in Ireland based on their LGBT status.
They only get together about once a month as many live outside Dublin and struggle with the cost to travel to meetings but they do stay in touch on social networks and WhatsApp.
For while many of the group viewed Ireland as a safe haven, being LGBT in the asylum system has its own difficulties as many face threats and intimidation from other asylum seekers in the centers, said Brian Collins from the Irish Refugee Council.
Afef said one man in her center harassed her constantly.
"That's why we created the group. Some of us know about lawyer stuff. Some of us know about housing. Some of us know about the communities around," said another group member who requested anonymity.
"We need that so we can support each other."

Afef, an asylum seeker from Tunisia who wished to maintain anonymity,
during an interview with
the Thomson Reuters Foundation in Dublin, Ireland on April 28, 2017. 
Thomson Reuters Foundation/Cormac O'Brien
There are no statistics on the number of LGBT people seeking asylum in Ireland but there are almost 5,000 in the system overall, housed in about 32 centers around Ireland, according to recent figures from the Reception and Integration Agency set up in 2001 to coordinate services to asylum seekers and refugees.
It's a system that has come under fire from human rights watchdogs in Ireland as well as internationally with reports of people languishing in a system for up to 15 years.
The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission described the system as a "severe violation of human rights" in 2015 because of the time it took to process applications.
While Amnesty International has urged Ireland to expedite reforms of its direct provision accommodation, a system set up as a temporary emergency measure in 2000, as this was regarded as unsuitable for long-stay residence, especially for families children and victims of torture.
With calls for change mounting, Ireland's International Protections Office has committed to speeding up decisions for asylum seekers while the Irish Supreme Court in May 2017 ruled denying asylum seekers the right to work was unconstitutional.
Activists welcomed the proposed changes around employment.
But Katrin Hugendubel, advocacy director for the European unit of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), cautioned fast-tracking applications could end up hurting the most vulnerable groups of asylum seekers – including LGBT individuals.
"If you look at the accelerated procedures, that leaves people with very little time to prove their sexual orientation," she said because LGBT asylum seekers need to provide evidence to back up their claim of LGBT persecution to get asylum. 
The Identity group, set up in 2016, is supported by an asylum seekers' theatre group, Change of Address, and the Irish Refugee Council. Theatre director and co-founder of Identity, Oonagh Murphy, said they used crowdfunding to bring a group of LGBT asylum seekers in Ireland to attend the Dublin Gay Pride March in 2015 and it grew from there into a support group.
"You come to Ireland, a tiny island at the edge of Europe, the last thing you expect is to be put back into close living arrangements from that culture," Murphy said.
Maverick from Zimbabwe arrived in Ireland in May 2015 and is awaiting a decision on his asylum application.
"I was a bit nervous before I met the LGBT group, but it's getting a little bit better now," said the 27-year-old motor mechanic who faced jail if found to be gay in Zimbabwe.
"Last year I really had fun. We danced on the street," he said. "Of course back home, you get killed for that."
($1 = 0.8951 euros)
(Reporting by Cormac O'Brien, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith @BeeGoldsmith; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change, and resilience. Visit

February 19, 2019

Ireland With a Successful Brown Skinned Gay MP Elected When Irish Trump-like Taught Them Their Error

Leo Varadkar 2016.jpg
The openly gay son of a Hindu immigrant father from India and younges elected PM of Ireland

 The Irish Times

When Canadian MP Dr. Hedy Fry first came to Dublin in the 1960s, there was “one Chinese restaurant, one Indian restaurant. It was very insular.”

Fifty years after her graduation from the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland, the longest-serving woman in the history of Canada’s House of Commons says the country has “changed enormously”.
“When women won the right to choose, when that referendum [on the Eighth Amendment] passed, when gay marriage passed, I kept saying to people, ‘this is not the Ireland I knew’.”

Born in Trinidad and Tobago in 1941, Fry turned down a place at Oxford University, England to study medicine in RCSI, graduating in 1968 before emigrating to Canada in 1970.

Speaking to The Irish Times during a visit to Dublin for the annual RCSI charter day recently, Fry said the fact that Ireland has a “brown-skinned, gay prime minister” shows how much the country has changed since then.

Like Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Fry practiced medicine before entering what she calls the “scuzzy business” of politics, working as a doctor at St Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver for two decades.
There, she earned a reputation as a tough negotiator on medical matters at local, provincial and national levels, serving as president of the British Colombia Medical Association in 1990-1991.
“I was one of these people who poked my nose into doors, opened them, walked into the room, looked at everybody and went ‘Yo! I’m here!’”

Fry says her “big mouth” gained the attention of the then Liberal Party leader Jean Chrétien, who encouraged her to stand in the 1993 federal elections in the constituency of Vancouver Centre.

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The Tel A Friend Gay Switchboard was an LGBT lifeline in Ireland in the 1980's
The Tel A Friend Gay Switchboard was an LGBT lifeline in Ireland in the 1980's

Healthcare and rights

To her surprise she won, unseating the prime minister of the day, Kim Campbell, in the process.
“I thought I was sure to lose. I thought I’d write about it one day when I got back to being an ‘author’ and I thought I’d write about what it was like to run against a sitting prime minister. But I won and I was shocked when I beat her.”

At 77, Fry is also Canada’s oldest MP, winning elections on eight consecutive occasions focusing on healthcare, human rights, and LGBTQ2+ issues.

In the cabinet, she has held the post of secretary of state for multiculturalism and status of women and has been the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s special representative on gender issues since 2010.
Prime minister Justin Trudeau faces his first electoral test since his Liberal Party swept to victory in 2015 when Canadians vote in federal elections later this year.

Asked whether populism could have an impact at the polls, Fry says Canada is a liberal nation that embraces multiculturalism and she believes that voters learned the value of that history after the Conservative party’s victory in the 2006 elections.

“I think the country woke up like the United States did with [President Donald] Trump and went, ‘OMG, what did we do?’ and yet they thought, ‘They can’t be so bad. This is Canada’.”
Global politics

The conservatives under prime minister Stephen Harper held on to power for nine years, during which time the party veered further to the right and, like Trump, Harper began to move away from participation in global politics.

Fry says this opened the door for the Liberal party and Trudeau.
“People were feeling uneasy with the government of the day, thinking this is not Canada, and suddenly ‘Captain Canada’ decides to run and people just felt like they could trust him.”

The Liberals are expected to retain their majority in October’s elections, but Trudeau’s popularity rating is at its lowest ever, amid ethics inquiries and criticism over his handling of the economy.
As the son of the late former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, “people always thought of him as a kid”, says Fry. She believes he is still popular with voters, but “now he can be judged on his own record”.
Fry herself will run in October’s elections, aiming for a ninth straight victory in the Vancouver Centre constituency.

What advice does she have for those coming up behind her?
“You’ve got to leave a mark behind to say because I passed through this place the world is just one millimeter better. Because I did something, the world is a better place. I think that gives us a purpose.”

A thought from Adam: I can only hope the US goes the same way as Ireland. After having a PM from the strict right they went he opposite. Thinfs were not going well and Ireland was being left bejind in the past. The tumbled the other way around electing someone who whose ethnicity  and sexual orientation have received the worse reviews from the whites in Ireland and people that think they are spcial because they were lucky to be borned in a country that wears shoes and have plenty of food to eat but like to put down others different than they. I love the irish and I've learn that no mater how stubburn they might seem to be they are smart and they do look at the consequences of elections. This is part of people tthat listen to the facts and can see how they can be applied to their own lives. No matter how much you like how good it sounds to be part of a certain party or say you are conservative that alone will not get you a job, education or put foood on the table. 
Im hopping we go the same way even though I don't trust voters anymore. To have a President like Obama, not perfect but someone who was smart and paid attention to govern and do the best job he could do. He was not a lazy ass who doesn't read instead likes to atch tv and get his next act either from a cowboy movie or some crazy dudes that get pay to say the most outrageous things (they would not be employed if they other than what they are). From Obama to go the opposite to Trump a tv personlity and that a great one at that. I'm afraid this nation will pay for that sin for years to come because the damaged being done is serious and is internal and outside the borders.

For most of the 20th century, LGBT Irish citizens were forced to live in a kind of exile in their own country, with the laws, the church and public opinion all working in concert to make their lives invisible or intolerable.


June 14, 2018

Catholic Church of Ireland Says Anti Gay Language from The Church Must Stop

DUBLIN — An Irish group campaigning for reform in the Catholic Church has launched a petition ahead of Pope Francis' papal visit in August to Ireland calling on the Vatican to change its "theological language that is gravely insulting to LGBTQI people." (The initials stand for "lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex.")  
We Are Church Ireland is encouraging anyone offended or angered by the church's use of terms such as "objectively disordered" and "intrinsically evil" in relation to LGBTQI people to sign their petition.
Spokesman for the group, Brendan Butler, said the petition demands an end to the Vatican's "un-Christian language to describe our LGBTQI sisters and brothers."
"For an institution like the Catholic Church to teach that these words are an expression of the mind of God to describe her image in LGBTQI persons is not alone scandalous but blasphemous," he criticized.
The petition is being spearheaded by former political correspondent at TV3 in Ireland, Ursula Halligan, along with Irish Senator David Norris and Pádraig Ó Tuama, leader of the Corrymeela peace community. 
Explaining their involvement, the trio have said that the church's formal language makes the institutional church complicit in the marginalization of LGBTQI people.
"Under the guise of religion and faith, the church models intolerance, breeds prejudices, and attempts to justify discrimination," they criticized in a statement.
Senator David Norris, a member of the Anglican community, has for decades campaigned for the decriminalization of homosexuality which was achieved in 1993. He is highly critical of the Christian churches' treatment of LGBTQI people.
"As a believing and church-going Christian I have to say that the history of the Christian churches in relation to gay people is a shocking record of criminality and brutality," he said. "At the instigation of the churches, gay people have been routinely ostracized, tortured and murdered. It is unacceptable that there should be any continuation of the savage and insensitive language employed by some of the churches in dealing with gay people. It is salutary to remember that Jesus Christ not once mentions or condemns homosexuality."
Norris, Halligan and Ó Tuama feel it is "imperative" for them to "boldly speak out" against the church's "continued insistence on calling the LGBTQI community's 'inclinations' as 'objectively disordered' (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2358), or even worse, 'ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil' (Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Person, 1986)." The group has called on the church to formally change its language about the countless LGBTQI people "whose lives benefit the church and who are impacted by such diminishing language."
"As a gay Catholic, I do not recognize myself in the language used about me in the church's documents or teachings," said Ó Tuama, who acts as leader of the Corrymeela Community, Northern Ireland's oldest peace and reconciliation organization. "The Gospels depict the dignity of humanity, especially those who were castigated or marginalized. The church would be more faithful to its witness to use language that builds bridges rather than diminishes dignity."
"If a business or company were to use such language, they would be publicly reprimanded and penalized by the state. The hierarchical church needs to wash its mouth out before speaking about LGBTQI people," Halligan, journalist in residence at Dublin City University, criticized.
The petition was launched June 7, and members of We Are Church's international network have been signing up. Representatives of We Are Church Ireland have brought it to the attention of the fourth conference of the International Church Reform Network which is taking place June 11-15 in Bratislava, Slovakia. It is hoped that the representatives from these other church reform groups will support the petition and bring it to their membership around the world.
According to Butler, the petition is only the first step in a much more far-reaching campaign for a rethink of the church's theology of human sexuality. "There has to be a change in culture within the institutional church first of all," he told NCR. But with the majority of bishops having been appointed under Popes Benedict XVI and John Paul II, he doesn't see that happening any time soon. Nor does he see LGBTQI Catholics leading change as "most of them have given up" and have left the church.
"It is only a few who remain," he said. "So many have walked away because they believe it is a waste of time. They fought for years but eventually gave up."
Butler detects a backlash within the Catholic Church against a more compassionate approach on LGBTQI people led by traditional Catholics in the U.S. promoting an Old Testament view of homosexuality as wrong and evil.
"It needs leadership from the top while we're pushing from the bottom," Butler said. "Pope Francis has asked people to bring the ideas to him, so that is what we are trying to do. I know he is under pressure, but at the end of the day he has to leave his mark on the church and he has to show leadership too and give direction by saying that this kind of language should no longer be used in connection with any gay person."

IMG_9125 cc.jpg

Pádraig Ó Tuama, Ursula Halligan and Sen. David Norris in front of the papal cross in the Phoenix Park in Dublin. (Colm Homes/Courtesy of We Are Church Ireland) 
Halligan believes the "hierarchical Catholic Church needs to get to know Catholic LGBTQI people. We are part of God's creation too and we're not going away. Deep, mutual listening can bring about deep, mutual healing and open up new ways of seeing things."
She described Pope Francis as "a wizard at the spontaneous symbolic gesture that captures world attention" and added that before any more theology is done the pope needs to call a global meeting of Catholic LGBTQI people in Rome and start a dialogue.
"I am confident that out of such dialogue the seeds of a new theology on human sexuality will emerge; one based on flesh and blood human persons and not on the theoretical abstractions of a tiny elite in the church," she said.
As a gay woman, Halligan recalled her hurt at the language the church uses to describe her sexuality. "I felt physically sick the first time I read the official church's position on homosexuality," she said. "I felt diminished and wounded as a person. Deep in my heart I knew God didn't see me like that and it made me wonder why the Catholic Church did?"
"Abuse isn't just a physical thing. Words, used negatively, can be equally abusive. If school yard bullies used the language of the Catholic Church, they'd be disciplined, sent home or away on a rehabilitation program," she continued.
One of the groups at the conference in Bratislava likely to support the petition is New Ways Ministry, led by Loretto Sr. Jeannine Gramick. This group has its own statement for which it is seeking an endorsement from the reform conference in Bratislava, concerning the World Meeting of Families — scheduled for Aug. 21-26 in Dublin — and the exclusion of LGBT families. The issue has dogged the World Meeting of Families since the controversy surrounding an image of a lesbian couple being removed from a resource booklet and a comment made by Los Angeles Bishop David O'Connell that the existence of gay couples was edited out of a resource video.
In their statement, New Ways Ministry notes that Francis has been meeting regularly with survivors of sexual abuse to listen to their stories, and calls on the pope to meet LGBT families, who they say, "have long suffered from another form of clerical abuse."
The group believes LGBT families should be invited to make presentations as part of the official program of World Meeting of Families so that the participants, and the whole church, can hear their stories.
"What arrangements are being made to guarantee that at least one of the five families who will give witness at WMF will be an LGBT family? Will the program include any parents who have LGBT children? Will a same-gender couple testify about the joys and difficulties of raising children? Will participants hear from a transgender person about their experience of family? Will even one such event happen?" New Ways Ministry challenges in its statement.
Perhaps one chink of light is the invitation to Jesuit Fr. James Martin to give a keynote presentation at the World Meeting of Families Congress in Dublin on how parishes can welcome LGBT Catholics, as well as their parents and families.
Speaking to America magazine, Martin said of the invitation, "The message to LGBT Catholics seems straightforward: you're an important part of the church."
"I'm tremendously grateful for this invitation, not so much for what it says about my own ministry or writing but what it says to LGBT Catholics, a group of people who have for so long felt excluded," added Martin, who has been targeted by conservatives over his outreach to the LGBT community. "I hope they see this invitation, which had to be approved by the Vatican, as an unmistakable sign of welcome from the church."
[Sarah Mac Donald is a freelance journalist based in Dublin.]
National Catholic Reporter

June 15, 2017

Ireland's First Openly Gay Prime Minister Takes Office

Ireland's newly elected prime minister, Leo Varadkar, shakes hands
 with members of a crowd gathered outside Leinster House, the seat
 of Irish Parliament in Dublin.
Peter Morrison/AP
When Leo Varadkar assumed power in Ireland on Wednesday, he blazed a trail of firsts: At 38 years old, the biracial son of an Indian immigrant father and Irish mother became the country's youngest-ever taoiseach, or prime minister.
He also became the first openly gay man elected to lead the Republic of Ireland, where homosexuality was illegal until just 24 years ago.
Now, as newly elected leader of the ruling Fine Gael party, Varadkar has delivered his first speech to Parliament and received his seal of office from the country's president, Michael D. Higgins.
"The government that I lead will not be one of left or right because those old divisions don't comprehend the political challenges of today," Varadkar told lawmakersWednesday.
"So the government that I lead will be one of the new European centers as we seek to build a Republic of opportunity," he continued, "and that is a republic in which every citizen gets a fair go and has the opportunity to succeed and in which every part of the country has the chance to share in our prosperity."

Despite Varadkar's firsts, Irish media and voters are "not obsessed with his sexuality or his racial origins," The Guardian's Henry McDonald tells NPR's, Ari Shapiro. Rather, it's the center-right politician's policies that have been the subject of significant debate.

"Some people label him a Thatcherite," McDonald says. "They think he's a kind of a son of Margaret Thatcher, the British prime minister — right of center, very pro-free market, you know, in the style of Thatcher and Ronald Reagan."

These rightward-leaning economic stances stand in contrast with Varadkar's generally liberal positions on abortion rights and other social issues — and they drew criticism from Varadkar's rival for his party's leadership, Simon Coveney. Varadkar, who defeated Coveney earlier this month, appointed him the party's deputy on Tuesday.

Varadkar cemented his win Wednesday, with a confirmation parliamentary vote of 57 to 50, with 47 abstentions.

His predecessor, Enda Kenny, lauded the man he'd nominated as his replacement.

"As the country's youngest holder of this office, he speaks for a new generation of Irish women and Irish men," he said earlier this month, according to the BBC. "He represents a modern, diverse and inclusive Ireland and speaks for them like no other, an Ireland in which each person can fulfill their potential and live their dreams."

May 27, 2017

Gay Prime Minister of Ireland in the Works

Ireland appears set to elect its first openly gay prime minister (or Taoiseach) on June 2. Leo Varadkar has built a wide lead in the race to succeed Enda Kenny, who announced his departure after serving as the country's premier for more than six years.
Varadkar is currently the Minister for Social Protection and is the favorite to replace Kenny as both the Fine Gael party leader and the head of government. If elected, he would also become the country's first leader of Asian immigrant descent and, at 38, the youngest person to hold the office.
“Having a government minister who is openly gay was a welcome development, and it’s a really positive sign of how attitudes have changed that a gay man is now in the running for Taoiseach,” said Paula Fagan, national coordinator for Ireland’s LGBT Helpline, a group that provides support to the country's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
If elected, Varadkar would only be the fourth openly gay world leader in modern history. The others include Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, former Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo and former Icelandic Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurõardóttir.
A picture of political spouses taken earlier this week -- including Bettel’s partner, Gauthier Destenay, as the only male -- recently went viral.
Two years ago, Ireland legalized same-sex marriage when 62 percent of voters in a nationwide referendum cast their ballots in favor of defining marriage as a legal union between two people, regardless of gender. Ireland became the first country in the world to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote.
“During the referendum campaign, Minister Leo Varadkar gave a groundbreaking interview on national radio, in which he publicly came out as a gay man,” Fagan said. “As such, he is the first openly gay government minister in Ireland, and he has demonstrated courage in speaking publicly about his sexuality and about public attitudes to the LGBT community.”
In a speech to Parliament to convince undecided colleagues to vote "yes" in the 2015 referendum, Varadkar stressed, “This is not a bill about ‘gay marriage,’ it is about ‘equal marriage.’”
"Having an openly gay member of parliament reach the office of Taoiseach not only shows how far Ireland has come in such a short period of time on LGBT+ understanding and acceptance but also sends out an important message to young LGBT+ Irish people that your sexuality, gender or any aspect of your identity should not be a preventative factor in achieving your aspirations and dreams in life -- be that politics, business, the arts or any other aspect of Irish society,” Adam Shanley, director of Gay Switchboard Ireland, told NBC Out.
Follow NIreland appears set to elect its first openly gay prime minister (or Taoiseach) on June 2. Leo Varadkar has built a wide lead in the race to succeed Enda Kenny, who announced his departure after serving as the country's premier for more than six years.
Varadkar is currently the Minister for Social Protection and is the favorite to replace Kenny as both the Fine Gael party leader and the head of government. If elected, he would also become the country's first leader of Asian immigrant descent and, at 38, the youngest person to hold the office.
“Having a government minister who is openly gay was a welcome development, and it’s a really positive sign of how attitudes have changed that a gay man is now in the running for Taoiseach,” said Paula Fagan, national coordinator for Ireland’s LGBT Helpline, a group that provides support to the country's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
If elected, Varadkar would only be the fourth openly gay world leader in modern history. The others include Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, former Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo and former Icelandic Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurõardóttir.
A picture of political spouses taken earlier this week -- including Bettel’s partner, Gauthier Destenay, as the only male -- recently went viral.
Two years ago, Ireland legalized same-sex marriage when 62 percent of voters in a nationwide referendum cast their ballots in favor of defining marriage as a legal union between two people, regardless of gender. Ireland became the first country in the world to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote.
“During the referendum campaign, Minister Leo Varadkar gave a groundbreaking interview on national radio, in which he publicly came out as a gay man,” Fagan said. “As such, he is the first openly gay government minister in Ireland, and he has demonstrated courage in speaking publicly about his sexuality and about public attitudes to the LGBT community.”
In a speech to Parliament to convince undecided colleagues to vote "yes" in the 2015 referendum, Varadkar stressed, “This is not a bill about ‘gay marriage,’ it is about ‘equal marriage.’”
"Having an openly gay member of parliament reach the office of Taoiseach not only shows how far Ireland has come in such a short period of time on LGBT+ understanding and acceptance but also sends out an important message to young LGBT+ Irish people that your sexuality, gender or any aspect of your identity should not be a preventative factor in achieving your aspirations and dreams in life -- be that politics, business, the arts or any other aspect of Irish society,” Adam Shanley, director of Gay Switchboard Ireland, told NBC Out.
Follow NBC Out on Twitter, Facebook and InstagramBC Out on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

November 23, 2015

Gay Irish Crossing to the South of Ireland to get Married



The North is now the only region in the UK and Ireland not to extend civil marriage rights to same sex couples so many are now choosing to cross the Border to get married.

At Stormont last month, a motion in support of marriage equality received a slim majority in favor for the first time but the move was only symbolic as it vetoed by the DUP using a petition of concern blocking mechanism.

Following Ireland’s historic Yes vote in May the campaign for marriage equality in the North is gaining momentum and is being challenged in the courts.
Labour Senator Mairia Cahill with Labour leader Joan Burton. A party sources said “we believe we will be back in government”. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish TimesTop Labour Party figures warn party could lose 20 seats

Princess Anne speaks with jockey AP McCoy after she officially opened the Princess Royal Grandstand during day one of The Open at Cheltenham raceourse, Cheltenham. Photograph: Tim Goode/PA WireMiriam Lord’s Week: Irish lads keep it cool in royal presence
Photograph: Matt KavanaghA very Panti Christmas: Rory O’Neill makes merry with family, Roses and a good film

Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson speaks about his decision to step down at Stormont Castle, November 19th, 2015. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire Belfast locals give views on Peter Robinson stepping down

Despite civil marriages carried out in the south only being recognised as civil partnerships in the North, gay and lesbian couples are choosing to tie the knot over the Border anyway.
Donal Murray (32), a nurse practitioner and John Campbell (30), a hotel supervisor met more than five years ago during Belfast Pride festivities.
Their wedding is due to take place in Ballymagarvey Village, Balrath, Co Meath on July 24th next year.
The couple were to have a civil partnership, but following the Yes vote in the referendum they immediately decided to opt for civil marriage instead.
“When the referendum was a success then it just reaffirmed to both John and I that having our wedding in the south was going to be even more special and significant as we would be legally married in the south.”

Murray added that he and Campbell “firmly support equality for the LGBT community and hope that in time the North will change in line with the rest of the UK and Ireland”.
They will be joining the growing list of couples from the North to opt for a civil marriage ceremony across the Border.

Darren and Tony Day for east Belfast were among the first couples to get married last week after the Marriage Act 2015 was signed into law.
Tony (38) a publisher, originally from Lisburn and Darren (42) a musician and teacher, originally from Newtownabbey, have been been together for more than six years after meeting online.
Their wedding was held in Co Monaghan on Saturday and their marriage was legally recognized on Tuesday when a short ceremony made it official.

“We didn’t originally decide to get married in the south,” said Tony.
“Originally we planned on having a civil partnership in Belfast on Thursday but when the choice arose to wait a couple of days after our big day to actually get married we decided that was a better option.
“Purely so that when it does eventually become recognised in NI, we don’t have to upgrade from a civil partnership to a marriage.”
Civil marriage

Day’s ex-wife Sabrina was one of his “grooms maid”, their daughter India (14) did a reading at the service and son Parker (7) walked Tony and Darren down the aisle.
“It was a disappointing that literally an hour after we were married and travelled back to NI, our marriage was no longer recognized as such,” he added.

Belfast solicitor Ciarán Moynagh says couples will avail of civil marriage across the Border, despite it not being recorded as such in the North.
“The progressive movement in the south is hugely positive and really puts the focus on the North of Ireland. It shows that our position is unsustainable,” he said.

He added: “Under the Civil Partnership Act 2004 section 215 downgrades an ‘overseas relationship’ to civil partnerships. Obviously this marriage is not overseas but this provision applies as it has been formed outside the United Kingdom. We have even more difficulties when it comes to looking at Scotland. I am not sure the Government when drafting the Civil Partnership Act 2004 ever envisaged this unique issue and I have been approached by couples seeking advice on their status in the North.”
The case of a couple Ciarán Moynagh represents, challenging the conversion of a same-sex marriage in London to a civil partnership in Belfast, is ongoing before the High Court and is listed for two further days of hearing at the start of December.

John O’Doherty, director of the Belfast-based Rainbow Project, said with “equal marriage now a reality across these islands there will be an increasing number of married same sex couples living in Northern Ireland who are not recognised”.
“This further reflects the irrationality of the illogical patchwork of marriage laws across the UK and Ireland.

“The idea that a marriage can be recognised in some parts of the UK and not others has no basis in law and is directly discriminatory towards legally married couples residing in Northern Ireland.
“Unfortunately the Northern Ireland Assembly has proven itself incapable of dealing with this inequality so same sex couples have had to turn to the courts.

“We know that a majority of both people and politicians in Northern Ireland support the introduction of equal marriage so it is only a matter of time before it becomes reality.”

October 30, 2015

Ireland Signs Same Sex Marriage into Law


Same-sex marriage was signed into law in Ireland, five months after a historic referendum saw the traditionally Catholic nation become the world's first country to vote for gay unions.

"The Presidential Commission today signed the 'Marriage Bill 2015' into law," the president's office said in a statement, paving the way for the first weddings within a month.

Ireland voted 62.1 percent in favour of allowing marriage between two people "without distinction as to their sex" in May, the first time anywhere that gay marriage has been legalised in a referendum.

The president's endorsement was the final hurdle for the bill after legal challenges briefly delayed the legislation from coming into effect.

The first ceremonies should be possible by mid-November, according to Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

Senator Katherine Zappone, who had long campaigned for her Canadian marriage to her wife to be recognised in Ireland, called it "a defining moment".
"It is a deeply emotional moment for those of us who have campaigned for so long," Zappone said in a statement.
 Irish Statue of Liberty
"This victory truly belongs to the nation, it is a moment for us all."

In a memorable moment that unfolded live on national television after the referendum result was announced, Zappone proposed to her wife Ann Louise Gilligan to re-marry her under Irish law.

International gay rights campaigners congratulated efforts by Irish activists to win public support for a "Yes" vote in the referendum.

"Tribute must also be paid to national politicians in Ireland, as all the main political parties put aside their partisan differences to campaign for the greater goal of equality," Evelyne Paradis of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association said in a statement.

Marriages between same sex couples that took place outside of Ireland will now be recognised under Irish law.

Couples already in civil partnerships, which were introduced in Ireland in 2011, will be able to marry within weeks.

May's referendum generated a lively, and at times divisive, debate in Ireland, which only decriminalised homosexual acts in 1993.

"The referendum confirmed that Irish people want a society that embraces diversity while valuing the family and marriage," Fitzgerald said last week, as the bill passed through the upper house of parliament.

"On 22 May 2015, the people of Ireland showed the scale of their ambition for our society."

President Michael D Higgins is on a visit to the United States, so in his place the bill was signed by senior delegates of the Presidential Commission.

May 24, 2015

Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein:“There are 2 Irelands, an elite Ireland/hidden Ireland Today the hidden Ireland spoke.”

People wait for final results at Trans Union Square, Dublin

My pre viols article came from Dublin, this one is from New York City the second reland. For this I used the New York Times:

“Today Ireland made history,” Prime Minister Enda Kenny said at a news conference, adding that “in the privacy of the ballot box, the people made a public statement.”

“This decision makes every citizen equal and I believe it will strengthen the institution of marriage,” Mr. Kenny said.

The vote is also the latest chapter in a sharpening global cultural clash. Same-sex marriage is surging in the West, legal in 19 nations before the Irish vote and 37 American states, but almost always because of legislative or legal action. At the same time, homosexuality is illegal across much of the Middle East and gay rights are under renewed attack in Russia and parts of Africa.

The results showed wide and deep support for a measure that had dominated public discourse and dinner-table conversation in the months before the vote on Friday. Supporters celebrated in gatherings and on the streets, with the rainbow colors of the gay rights movement and Yes vote buttons conspicuously on display.

Surprising many who had predicted a generational divide, the support cut across age and gender, geography and income, early results showed.

With early vote counts suggesting a comfortable victory, crowds began to fill the courtyard of Dublin Castle, a government complex that was once the center of British rule. By late morning, the leader of the opposition, David Quinn, director of the Iona Institute, conceded the outcome on Twitter: “Congratulations to the Yes side. Well done.”

For older activists, the moment marked a profound evolution for their country. For the world, it suggested how far the gay rights movement has come, to make such a significant step in a country with a storied history as a religious stronghold.

“Throughout my youth, adolescence and young adulthood, it was a criminal offense to be gay,” said David Norris, a 70-year-old Irish senator and longtime activist.
“There was silence on the subject,” he said. “It wasn’t mentioned in the newspapers, it wasn’t mentioned in the broadcast media. Then there was a fear of criminal prosecution, of being involuntarily placed in a lunatic asylum, losing your job, being socially destroyed. It was a terrible situation.”

The referendum changes Ireland’s Constitution so that civil marriage between two people is now legal “without distinction as to their sex.” It requires ratification by both houses of the Irish Parliament and the president. Though that is a formality, the date when gay and lesbian couples can marry will be determined in that process.

There was support for the measure across the political spectrum, including from Prime Minister Kenny, of the center-right Fine Gael party, and his Labour coalition partner, which had pushed for the referendum. Sinn Fein, an opposition party, also expressed support.

Many placed the results in a national context, saying it pointed not only to change but also to the compassion and tolerance of the Irish people.

Alex White, the government’s minister for communications, said: “This didn’t change Ireland — it confirmed the change. We can no longer be regarded as the authoritarian state we once might have been perceived to be. This marks the true separation of church and state.”

Gerry Adams, president of Sinn Fein, said: “There are two Irelands, the elite Ireland and the hidden Ireland. And today the hidden Ireland spoke.”

Gay rights activists around the world had said a victory would be an important milestone.

“I think this is a moment that rebrands Ireland to a lot of folks around the world as a country not stuck in tradition but that has an inclusive tradition,” said Ty Cobb, the international director of the Human Rights Campaign, a Washington-based advocacy group.

Late in the campaign, four Catholic bishops urged parishioners to vote against the measure. But as ballot boxes were opened one by one, and paper yes and no votes stacked up in front of counters at long tables in a cavernous hall, optimism among referendum supporters grew. 

Campaigning on both sides of the debate had been underway for months, with posters, billboards and commercials. One opposition commercial said, “You should be able to have reservations about gay marriage without being called a homophobe,” while a commercial supporting same-sex marriage featured young people encouraging their parents to vote.

Thousands are believed to have returned to Ireland to take part in the vote; plane tickets from London Friday night sold out.

Ireland’s paradigm shift from a quasi-theocracy to a leader on gay rights was the result of a sustained campaign by gay activists. They set up a network of support groups around the country and fused a grass-roots movement with aggressive social media outreach and a registration drive that brought in more than 100,000 new voters since last November. Tens of thousands of doors were knocked on, extensive leafleting campaigns took place and posters were ubiquitous. 

“Commentators just don’t seem to have grasped that this has been the culmination of a 10-year campaign to change attitudes in this country,” said Colm O’Gorman, chief executive of Amnesty International (Ireland) and a leading gay rights campaigner.

Leaders on both sides tried to strike a conciliatory note, though they said some issues remain to be sorted out, from rules on surrogacy to the ability of religious groups to hew to their views.

“The personal stories of people’s own testimonies, as to their difficulties growing up being gay certainly struck a chord with people,” said Jim Walsh, an Irish senator who opposed the marriage referendum, during a television interview.

“I would like today to not get back into the arguments that we had during the campaign but to wish them well,” he said. “But I think that going forward we will need to address issues which are going to arise.”

In a news release, the Iona Institute congratulated the yes side for “a very professional campaign that in truth began long before the official campaign started.”

But it also said “we will continue to affirm the importance of the biological ties and of motherhood and fatherhood” and urged the government to “address the concerns voters on the No side have about the implications for freedom of religion and freedom of conscience.”




May 23, 2015

Massive Amounts of the Irish came, voted for and win Irish Gay Marriage today!

  The Irish Win!                                                                             Justice and Equality win in                                                                                                    

This is the way it’s being reported in Ireland by the Irish Times. I thought you  might want to hear it from the people there:

Ireland has officially passed the same-sex marraige referendum with 1.2 million people voting in its favour. The result was confirmed just before 7pm with the final three Cork constituencies counted. The Yes vote prevailed by 62 to 38 per cent with a 60.5 per cent turnout.
In total, 1,201,607 people voted in favour with 734,300 against, giving a majority of 467,307. The total valid poll was 1,935,907. Roscommon-South Leitrim was the only county to reject same-sex marriage. The No vote there finished with 51.4 per cent.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said: “It’s very clear that if this referendum is an affirmation of the views of young people, then the church has a huge task in front of it to find the language to be able to talk to and to get its message across to young people, not just on this issue, but in general.” File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times Diarmuid Martin: Catholic Church needs reality check
On Friday, Ireland stopped being afraid of itself. The No campaign was all about fear — the fear that change could have only one vehicle (the handcart) and one destination (hell). And this time, it didn’t work.
Donegal, against some expectations, approved the amendment to the Constitution by a small margin. Donegal South West was on a razor edge with 50.1 per cent voting Yes, representing a margin of just 33 votes.
The Yes vote in Dublin was particularly pronounced. Dublin Midwest recorded a Yes vote of 70.9 per cent, Dublin Southwest returned 71.3 per cent, Dun Laoghaire 71.6 per cent, Dublin Northwest 70.6 per cent and Dublin South Central 72.3 per cent, all in keeping with the overall 70 per cent positive vote anticipated in the capital. As the result emerged on Saturday afternoon thousands of people gathered, against convention, in the courtyard of Dublin Castle among scenes of widespread jubilation.

Senior politicians welcomed the result with Minister for Health Leo Varadkar saying the overwhelming Yes vote makes Ireland a “beacon of light” for the rest of the world in terms of liberty and equality.

“It’s a historical day for Ireland,” he told RTÉ, a “social revolution” adding that had any constituencies voted No, it would only have been a handful. In the end there was just one.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said it was now time to focus on other myriad inequalities in Irish society.

“I have the strong belief - there is a strong belief in the church - about the nature of marriage and the family,” he said, after the result was beyond dispute.
“I would like to have seen that the rights of gay and lesbian men and women could have been respected without changing the definition of marriage. That hasn’t happened but that is the world we live in today.”

The eyes of the world too have been trained on Ireland as much of its population hoped to carry the first popular vote on same-sex marriage. The story featured prominently in international media throughout Saturday.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the referendum turn-out showed the “palpable movement” of people wanting to be involved.

He particularly noted how young people had travelled around the country to “to put a single mark” on a ballot paper, demonstrating the value of the issue at hand.

Paul Moran of Millward Brown told RTÉ voter turnout had proved vital and that youth had driven the result, if not entirely deciding it. Social media has played a central role, he said.
No campaigners congratulated the Yes side. Prominent No campaigner and director of the Iona Institute David Quinn seemed to concede the vote shortly after counting began when he tweeted: “Congratulations to the Yes site. Well done.”
The Iona Institute issued a statement congratulating the Yes side “on their win” which they described as “a handsome victory”.

“We hope the Government will address the concerns voters on the No side have about the implications for freedom of religion and freedom of conscience,” it concluded.
No campaigner Senator Ronan Mullen said he was not surprised by the seemingly “very substantial majority” in the Yes vote but remains concerned about changes to the Constitution and its negative impacts.

Nobody in the No campaign thought it was going to be easy, he said.
“We are operating in a political time and place in Irish culture”, up against a very skilled Yes campaign which had the support of all political parties.
Senator Fidelma Healy Eames who also campaigned for a No vote said the referendum “for me was never anti-gay”. She said she had switched her vote from Yes to No simply because of her concerns around Constitutional change and its effect on a child’s birthright.

The No advocacy group Mothers and Fathers Matter expressed “warm congratulations” to the Yes side but said that one in three Irish people - the vote ratio - were not represented by the political establishment.

Yes campaigner and Fianna Fáil Senator Averil Power said gay campaigners who told their stories on the doorsteps of voters had “helped to change Ireland for all of us” not just the gay community.
She said she had seen many of them reduced to tears by the experience they had during the campaign. For them, it was often “an incredibly difficult thing to do”.

Senator David Norris, who fought from the 1970s to 1993 to have homosexuality decriminalised, welcomed the result. “I believe that by the end of today gay people will be equal in this country. I think it’s wonderful,” he said.

Minister for Children James Reilly said while the same-sex marriage referendum yes vote is strong in Dublin, it is also strong around the country. He says a lot of voters have been thinking about their grandchildren and giving them the same opportunities in life should they be gay.
US vice president Joe Biden tweeted: “We welcome Ireland’s support for equality #LoveWins.”
As with the last referendum, media facilities were made available at Dublin Castle and a large international contingent was in attendance.

Following calls from politicians and members of the public on Friday Minister of State with responsibility for the OPW Simon Harris announced that Dublin Castle would also be open to 2,000 members of the public.

May 21, 2015

Ireland on the Edge of Legalizing Gay Marriage-Catholics Soul Search

- Barely a generation ago, Ireland outlawed homosexual acts and gays often faced a stark choice between leading secret lives or emigrating to more liberal lands. This week, in the world's first national referendum on the matter, the Irish could vote to legalize same-sex marriage.
The campaign ahead of Friday's constitutional referendum has featured searing testimonies designed to make the voters of this predominantly Roman Catholic nation look in the mirror. Members of many of Ireland's most prominent families have come out of the closet in hopes of challenging their neighbors' attitudes to homosexuality. The contest has pit the waning power of the Catholic Church against the secular-minded government of Prime Minister Enda Kenny.
"A yes vote costs the rest of us nothing. A no vote costs our gay children everything," former President Mary McAleese said at a gay rights event in Dublin this week after her only son, a 30-year-old airline executive, revealed he is gay. McAleese, a canon scholar and former legal adviser to the church, spoke of her son's experience of bullying and isolation as a teenager, and of friends who learned that their own sons were gay only when they tried to kill themselves.
The government's campaign effectively began in January with a 36-year-old Cabinet minister, Leo Varadkar, declaring his homosexuality so that he could campaign for a "yes" vote from a position of honesty. The public confessional has been busy ever since, with a stream of entertainers, sports stars and political and business leaders offering their tales of learning that a close friend or family member was gay - but had kept their true identity secret to avoid social intimidation.
"For too long now, people haven't been able to be true to themselves," said Conor Cusack, who is one of the few openly gay athletes in Ireland's native Gaelic sports scene. In radio and TV debates, Cusack has challenged the views of other well-known sportsmen who say they'll vote no.
"Emotionally, I have been in a prison since the age of 17; a prison where I lived a half-life, repressing an essential part of my humanity, the expression of my deepest self; my instinct to love," wrote Ursula Halligan, one of Ireland's best known political correspondents. She came out as a lesbian this month at age 54.
"At every turn society assumes and confirms heterosexuality as the norm. This culminates in marriage when the happy couple is showered with an outpouring of overwhelming social approval. For me, there was no first kiss; no engagement party; no wedding," she wrote. "And up until a short time ago, no hope of any of these things."
Gay marriage is legal in 19 countries, including Britain and most of the United States. But with the exception of three U.S. states, the measure has been enacted solely by lawmakers, not in referendums.
Ireland is holding a nationwide vote because of its conservative 1937 constitution written by then-Prime Minister Eamon de Valera in collaboration with Catholic church leaders. Its family section proclaims inalienable rights for married couples, but doesn't specify that a marriage must be between a man and a woman - an omission that reflects the age's dominance of Catholic teaching and the traditional invisibility of gays in public life.
While some politicians called for the government to legislate directly for gay marriage, Kenny's attorney general advised that, as with all social issues detailed in De Valera's overarching constitution, any changes in law would have to be approved by referendum and formally added to the constitution, lest it be legally challenged as unconstitutional.
Ireland's previous government in 2010 did legalize civil partnerships for gay couples, resolving problems involving property ownership, pensions, tax benefits and other financial matters. But a constitutional reform commission in 2013 recommended legalization of full-fledged marriage for gays, citing more than 150 shortcomings with civil partnerships, and Kenny backed the recommendation.
His government's proposed amendment to permit marriages of "two persons without distinction as to their sex" requires a simple majority of referendum votes to become law.
While opinion polls have consistently shown that most voters support the change, the "yes" side's lead has narrowed this month as religiously conservative campaigners raise fears that gay marriage could endanger children.
"No" campaigners have plastered lamp posts with posters arguing that civil partnerships should be good enough for gays. Other ads warn that unregulated surrogate pregnancies would flourish in a more gay-friendly Ireland, and judges could order children to be seized from single mothers and handed over to adoptive gay couples.
"A mother's love is irreplaceable, vote NO," advises one placard depicting a red-haired boy hugging his mom. "Two men can't replace a mother's love," advises another poster produced, with a tinge of irony, by a pressure group called Mothers and Fathers Matter.
Ireland's independent Referendum Commission, tasked with providing objective information for both sides of every referendum question, has rejected the "no" camp's claims on child endangerment issues as nonsense. It notes that under existing law, gay couples already have the ability to adopt and have children through in-vitro fertilization or surrogacy arrangements.
Another ubiquitous "no" campaign poster, portraying a heterosexual couple kissing a baby on each cheek under the message "Children Deserve a Mother and a Father, Vote No," caused some embarrassment to Mothers and Fathers Matter when it was revealed that the baby-kissing picture came from a stock photo agency - and the real-life British couple protested that their family portrait shouldn't be used to promote anti-gay bigotry.
"This family believes that everyone has a right to marry the person they love regardless of their gender ... and this family would vote 'yes'," the couple said in a statement distributed by Amnesty International, which is campaigning for gay marriage.
The Catholic Church, its authority weakened by declining Mass attendance and two decades of child abuse cover-up scandals, still casts a long shadow in Ireland, particularly in schools and in the rural west of Ireland, where polls indicate anti-gay marriage sentiment runs highest. Priests this weekend read out bishops' pastoral letters from the pulpit asking worshippers to reject the proposed amendment.
In a joint statement, Ireland's bishops said the measure would place "the union of two men, or two women, on a par with the marriage relationship between a husband and wife which is open to the procreation of children."
Failure to stop this, the bishops forecast, would mean it becomes "increasingly difficult to speak any longer in public about marriage as being between a man and a woman. What will we be expected to teach children in school about marriage? Will those who sincerely continue to believe that marriage is between a man and a woman be forced to act against their conscience?"
But even within the church, some priests and nuns have said their leaders are wrong, and they'll vote yes. Dublin's politically savvy archbishop, Diarmuid Martin, has offered a more nuanced defense of traditional marriage. He says the faithful should examine their own consciences when casting their ballots Friday.
"I know that the severity with which the Irish church treated gay and lesbian people in the past, and in some cases still today, makes it difficult for some to understand the church's position," Martin said.
Catholic Church letter on referendum,
YesEquality campaign,
Mothers and Fathers Matter,
Ireland's Referendum Commission,

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