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The Fight for Equality


When it comes to discrimination the LGBT+ community are all too familiar with it...unfortunately.


In Ireland, same sex activity was decriminalised in 1993. Ireland is a vastly catholic country and has been noticed as having one of the most notable shifts in attitude to the LGBT+ community from conservative views to liberal ones in the space of a decade. Ireland as a country and as a population are now known to have some of the most liberal views on the LGBT+ community.


In 2015, a survey of 1,000 individuals in Ireland found that 78% of people were in support of same-sex marriage and 71% of people thought that same-sex couples should be allowed to adopt. A 2013 survey showed that 73% of Irish people agreed that "same-sex marriage should be allowed in the Constitution". Earlier, a 2008 survey showed that 84% of Irish people supported civil marriage or civil partnerships for same-sex couples, with 58% supporting full marriage rights in registry offices.


On July 2010, the Oireachtas passed the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010, recognising civil partnerships between same-sex couples.


On 6 April 2015, the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 was signed into law, amending the Adoption Act 2010, and on 19 July 2017 the Adoption Act 2017 was signed into law. These laws amended Irish adoption law to enable same-sex couples to adopt children.


Same-sex marriage is legal in Ireland, following approval of a referendum on 22 May 2015 which amended the Constitution of Ireland to provide that marriage is recognised irrespective of the sex of the partners. The measure was signed into law by President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins as the Thirty-fourth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland on 29 August 2015. The Government of Ireland also passed legislation confirming the right of trans people to have their gender identity legally recognised.


As accepting as Ireland may seem, like all countries where same sex relations wasonce illegal, present day Ireland still has its issues, including hate crimes, discrimination and some people with an anti-rights agenda. Particularly in the North of Ireland where equal marriage only became legal in 2020 due to direct rule, political unionism actively worked against the rights of people.


In the North of Ireland, the total number of hate crimes in regards to homophobic attacks from Oct 2017 to September 2018 was 284. The number of homophobic hate crimes recorded in 2018/19 is the third highest since 2006/2007 and for every 10,000 population there was 1 homophobic attack and 1 homophobic crime.


I believe a massive way to tackle homophobia is through representation, e.g. movies or television, bring the topic to your living room with your family… just like straight relationships.


Representation can be effective for people trying to determine their sexuality. Seeing actors play roles of LGBT+ characters can play a massive part in allowing them to understand and come to term with their feelings.


Growing up as an LGBT+ teen is hard enough… representation would make it that bit easier. But LGBT+ young people still don’t experience the same treatment as other teens in school as they don’t even receive sex education suited to their sexual orientation.


Nearly nine in ten LGBT+ pupils (87 per cent) have learnt about contraception and safe sex at school, however just one in five LGBT+ pupils (20 per cent) – and only one in ten LGBT+ pupils who attend religious schools (10 per cent) – have learnt about this in relation to same-sex relationships.


It’s been shown that schools who educate all pupils on all types of sexual intercourse produce less bullying towards their LGBT classmates. The pupils are also more likely to report feeling happy, included and safe at school. Schools and teachers have a duty to educate all pupils and show them there is more than one way of living.


Education, representation and hate crime isn’t where the discrimination ends. tThe LGBT+ community also experience bias and further discrimination within politics, including the far right and their agenda to work against the rights of this community. In America, Donald Trump’s record against the LGBT+ community, after having campaigned as an ally of LGBT+ rights, has proven the opposite of anything similar to a friend.


Below is his record;


Here in the North of Ireland we also have the massively bigoted DUP. In 2013 a DUP Assembly Member, Tom Buchanan, told children at a school that homosexuality is “an abomination”. Arlene Foster’s conservative party has previously supported the introduction of a ‘conscience clause’ to protect religious people who want to discriminate against anyone who is LGBT+. Gay teen suicides are more common in politically conservative places.


Whilst all this information is highly worrying for the present day, the commitment and work put in by the LGBT+ population and other activists has seen some real results;

  • In 2013, 92% of adults who are LGBT+ said they believe society had become more accepting of them than in the past 10 years.

  • Approximately 1 million children in the U.S. are being raised by same-sex couples.

  • Currently there are 27 countries in which equal marriage is legal.

  • Equal marriage had previously been illegal in 13 out of 50 US states but it is now legal in all 50 states.

  • In May of 2017, Taiwan became the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage.

  • In 2013, Uruguay passed the same-gender marriage laws by a large majority.


That’s not all and it wont be the last of positive results to come out of activism within the LGBT+ population. Activism is the core movement for rights everywhere. Without activism we would be further behind on our equality agenda, these rights and the encouraging outcomes have been achieved from people power.


I am very proud of the outcomes accomplished up to 2020, but we have a long road to travel. Long live the fight for equality.

Shelby Nì Conghaile is 19 years old and studying counselling at college. She is a member of Sinn Féin and passionate about human rights.


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