Human Rights / Family

“Marriage Equality debates fired the imaginations of our community”

Thursday, October 31, 2013
Ireland is waiting to have a referendum on opening the institution of marriage to same-sex couples. On November 1, government tells when.
 
In April, a Convention on the Constitution, made up of citizens and politicians, voted in favour of same-sex marriage. It was 79% in favour of opening marriage to LGBT couples.The government will now decide when to have a referendum on the issue and on November 1, it will officially respond to the “Recommendations of Convention on the Constitution on Marriage Equality for Same-Sex Couples”.
 
Martha Whyte from Outhouse spoke on her organization’s position regarding Marriage Equality debates and explained what a possible change means especially for young LGBTs:
 
“Outhouse Community and Resource Centre has supported the campaign for Marriage Equality from the beginning. Many of the meetings and activities of the campaign take place in our centre.  We are acutely aware of how keenly the LGBT community -especially younger people- see the issue of equal rights to marry as a defining marker of equality and acceptance in Irish society. This simple basic concept fired the imaginations of our community from the outset and inspired thousands who did not previously see themselves as political activists to march in demonstrations, contact their public representatives and ask family and friends to join them.”
 
Over the past decade, many changes took place in favor of better social rights for LGBTs, especially in the fields of education and youth inclusion, however the general picture still poses a lot of threats to the lives of LGBT society in Ireland. Nearly all schools in Ireland are still regulated by the Church, and even though students are given laws that aims to protect them from bullying, schools are still far from being safe spaces for LGBT teachers and parents. Martha Whyte gives us a vivid picture on the lives of Irish LGBT society:
 
“In our centre we see every day the effects of decades of discrimination and abuse on members of our community: Low self-esteem, substance misuse, mental and physical health issues, poor educational and employment achievement… We also are keenly aware that despite major advances towards equal treatment over recent years, the effects of discrimination continue for many people throughout their life.”
 
“We are determined to ensure that officials do not see an equal right to marry as the end of the ’LGBT issue’”
 
“The challenge for the Centre and our community is to ensure that legislators and policy-makers recognise that this is so and that they have a duty to act to combat the effects of that discrimination. Yes, the right to marry will be a defining moment in our society but a true measure of equality will be when services are properly funded to deal with the needs of our LGBT community on an equal basis with other sections of society. In Outhouse we are determined to address this issue and to ensure that officials do not see an equal right to marry as the end of the ’LGBT issue’”.  
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