A Gay Weekend in Ireland

There were two events held over the weekend involving the Gay Population in Ireland. One was a great success, the other a waste of time.

Lets start with the success, Northwest pride held an event in a town called Easkey. The village in Co. Sligo has a population of 250 and it went gay for the day with local people and businesses taking part in the event. Reading the coverage in the Guardian though really brought it home for me about how much rural Ireland has changed, and changed for the better.

What really sent that home was the quotes from a few of the locals such as this one from Michael Gordon who manages the village shop

“Gay people are the same as every body else.” He has lived in Easkey all his life, helped rebuild two churches in the area and knows everyone in the town. “Ireland is a tolerant place now, thank God,” he said. “Rural Ireland has grown up.”

Or this one from a local mother Linda O’Dowd

“I have no idea if any of my kids are gay, but I would totally support them,” she said. “I don’t see anything wrong with it whatsoever.

Fair play to Easkey, but they do prove their point.

Now the second event, the LGBT Noise march in Dublin which saw 5,000 people marching for Gay Marriage. Why bother? I mean we have a civil partnership bill that will be passed, shouldn’t we be focusing on that making sure that it is the best possible, rather then focusing on this pie in the sky aim, that isn’t going to happen anytime soon?

We have to be realists, we have to get on with it. Why scrifice what we can have now, for what we might get in ten years when there is polical will for it? We can still get it in future, but why sacrifice what we have in front of us?

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Author: Stephen

Cork born and bred, proud European and Irishman. Involved in many organisations and politics. Also writes for SpirtualityIreland.org and UCC Express.

51 thoughts on “A Gay Weekend in Ireland”

  1. What makes it different from the CP Bill in the UK is that from the point of view of this bill kids in same-sex families do not exist. Immigration clearance is not provided with the bill though. Same-sex families with kids, or ones where one of the partners is not an EEA national and thus will be thrown away from the country if, for example, made redundant at work (this second one is exactly the case for me) do exist in reality though. Are you asking all of them to wait for better times? To go to hell with their problems since none of them are applicable to you (at the moment)?

    1. No I am not Vlad, if the bill is insufficent in an area, which it clearly is. Then lobby for it to be changed. Asking for something that is clearly not on the table is a waste of time in my mind.

  2. In your opinion, what exactly is not on the plate? Some of the provisions of the UK CP Bill? The words “civil marriage”? Anything else?

    1. Well the fact that the words “civil marriage” isnt there is why I support the bill. There are a few issues not there, like the ones made by yourself in the first comment.

      To answer your technical question, there may be a box under the comment one to tick to be updated, but I don’t know how to endable it as its not in this theme.

  3. P.S. a technical question – is it possible, without much trouble for you, arrange the e-mail notification of new comments, as it is possible to do on wordpress.com and blogger.com?

  4. This thing with lack of the option of getting updates is becoming annoying.

    In any case, I was not asking what is not in the present version of the Bill, I read it. I was rather curious about your opinion on what you consider a realistic task to get on that plate. I hope I managed to remind you that at least the two things I mentioned in my first comment SHOULD be there, or it’s not any closer to equality and recognition.

  5. Why bother? You may be happy to take anything that’s offered (and I might add that you don’t seem to know exactly what’s being offered!) but I, as a citizen of this state, feel I deserve nothing less than to be treated exactly as such. If and when the CP bill is passed, I will greet it with happiness for those gay couples for whom it will solve some of their problems, but I will still be outraged that I’m being treated as a lesser person. That is why I matched. The idea that civil marriage is “pie in the sky” is nonsense. When Ireland belatedly decriminalised male homosexuality, it learned from the mistakes of other countries, and leap-frogged over many, by introducing an equal age of consent. Here is another opportunity to do the same. Six EU countries, including “Catholic” Spain already have full marriage for gay people. Three of those countries started with CP and then realised having a separate institution for gay citizens wasn’t sensible, or good enough, and then “upgraded” to marriage.
    Civil rights struggles were never won by taking a meek “Please Sir” approach. We need to push for what is right and fair. And if we don’t get that at first and only get CP, well we’ll take it begrudgingly, and only because some gay couples are in urgent need. But we shouldn’t be bloody happy about it. You may think you deserve less than your heterosexual siblings and friends, but I most certainly do not, and I won’t pretend to.
    Where is your gumption, your fight, your outrage, your sense of fairness? If the gay people who came before us had taken your attitude we’d be nowhere.

    1. Brendan, I am not entirely happy with what is presented. There are changes that need to be made. This hole idea that marriage is the “sole” objective is what annoys me. It ignores what can be acheived now, in deference for what might be acheived in the future.

      I have gumption, but I keep for things that are more important right now.

  6. Vlad, I am not an expert, I can’t say what should or shouldnt be in the bill, for example I didnt know there was an issue like the one raised by you in the first comment. Those things should be in bill, but if we keep harping on about gay marriage, its not going to be in it.

  7. Steve, are you saying people’s rights are not important right now?

    What about the gay families that exist today and have done for many years vulnerable to being ripped apart by the law as it is and will be after CP?

    1. Joe, Its not a rights question in my mind. its recognition of relationships. If the CP bill isn’t good enough, then lobby to change it! The Government will be dependent on opposition votes to get the bill passed, so we can try and get a better bill passed.

      Vlad, I do think they are entirely wrong cause I oppose Gay Marriage, and so in my mind those who are campaigning for it are wrong. Marriage equality “sole objective” is marriage not equality, they are just using that to dress it up in mind.

      Ian, thank you! You understand me! 🙂

  8. Stephen, maybe you should learn a bit more about the CP Bill before coming up with that idea that pro-marriage activists are entirely wrong? Otherwise it appears a bit more judgemental than your approach normally is.

    Also, the “sole objective” is not marriage. It is equality.

  9. I am quite sure that Stephen can speak for himself but he appears to me to be saying that if the effort that was put in campaigning for marriage was put into campaign for improvements in the current CP bill then we would have a vastly improved bill. In a sense those advocating marriage are actually doing us all by a disservice by focusing only on marriage – this means the shortcomings of the bill will not get much debate or focus –

    Vlad – to me it seems that a lot of these activists are obsessed with marriage and seem to almost suggest that it is the answer to all of our problems especially with regard to children- as Fergus Ryan has pointed out ” the introduction of same-sex marriage in and of itself would address only some of the issues raised in relation to the rights of children raised by same-sex couples. ”

  10. Personally I object to the lack of protection for communications between Civil Partnered Couples, in that under the current draft of the bill one partner can be forced in a court to testify against their partner.

    Heterosexual couples are protected in this regard save for a number of exceptions e.g. Child Abuse, Sexual Abuse etc…

  11. I do think they are entirely wrong cause I oppose Gay Marriage, and so in my mind those who are campaigning for it are wrong.

    OK, here I give up… honestly, this approach starts to seem more religious than political. (Not “religious” as in “religion-driven”, but as in “based on irrational beliefs”.)

  12. @Ian: I took time to check out the link, thanks. I think that there are two questions here: getting all the rights we deserve and getting equality in what to call these arrangements. As for the first question, we have a good example here: CP in the UK, where the rights are IDENTICAL to marriage rights, and the only difference is in the name. I don’t think that we should settle for less than that. As for the second question – well, for me personally the word marriage itself is not that important – I would be fine if the different word used, but the actual provisions will be the same for same-sex and the opposite-sex couples. What is crucial here is that it’s about time to separate religious unions from civil unions. That’s what I personally mean when I show up at protests in civil marriage campaigns. I do think it is important.

  13. Stephen, this is a question of rights. In another post, you argue that we should “keep human rights at the core of Europe and Vote Yes on October 2nd” to Lisbon which incorporates the “Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union” and has the following article:

    Article 9. Right to marry and right to found a family
    The right to marry and the right to found a family shall be guaranteed in accordance with the national laws governing the exercise of these rights.
    (also Article 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights)

    Secondly, the constitution requires that the state “protect the family” and can you honestly tell me that there are no families consisting of a same-sex couple with children? The Dept. of Justice legally recognises de-facto couples (same-sex) and Mr Justice Hedigan made a ruling in 2008 that a lesbian couple with a child were a de-facto family and entitled to protection under the European Convention on Human Rights. He said there was nothing in Irish law to suggest this family composed of two women and a child had any lesser right to be recognised as a de facto family than a family composed of a man and a woman, who are not married to each other, with a child.

    He also recommended legislative action in relation to same-sex couples including provisions for where a couple may wish to parent and for one of them to bear a child. This is *not* in the current legislation. What I’m looking for are all the same rights as marriage and for all references in law to marriage to apply to same sex-couples that have entered civil marriage/union/partnership/

  14. The reply joe is the article you quote

    The right to marry and the right to found a family shall be guaranteed in accordance with the national laws governing the exercise of these rights.

    In accordance with national laws. That means it is up to a government what should constitute a marriage, in this case (Well in all cases in my mind) marriage is between a man and woman. Always has been, always should be.

    You can call it what ever you want, but dont call it marriage!

    Did I ever say families shouldnt be recognised Joe? No. I said the civil partnership bill should be changed!

  15. Stephen, if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck then why not call it what it is? Anything that provides less than the same rights as civil marriage is discriminatory to both de-facto couples and de-facto families. Why not call it civil marriage? What part of civil marriage do you want to exclude?

    Remember that religions perform civil marriage and give it their blessing. Marriage in the eyes of the state is neither Catholic/Protestant/Jewish/Muslim but strictly civil. The state also provides for divorce, re-marriage and non-religious ceremonies.

  16. Why shouldn’t it change? Are you saying that same-sex marriages in countries like Spain and Canada are illegitimate and wrong?

    Fear of change is not a trivial reason to resist the recognition of the rights of same-sex couples and the families based around such relationships.

    1. Did I ever say I feared change? I’m saying dont change it. We should be creating something new, dynamic and diverse. Something Gay!

  17. Stephen, your set of arguments against civil marriage equality can be used without any single change to prove that slavery should not have been abandoned. Indeed, it has been around for thousands of years, and anyway they should not “change something that shouldnt be changed”. Your posts and thoughts usually ARE logical, that’s why it’s so confusing to see you insisting on something without any clear logical reasoning!

    1. Its not equality, its trying to conform! Its trying to be the same, when we are not! we are different for a reason, let us celebrate that difference, isnt that the whole point of Gay Pride and that?

      We have a seperate identity, we have something that is unique. We should be using that as a positive and not conform and create as i said earlier something new.

      Vlad, to be told my beliefs are illogical is a bit hipocritical considering the gay marriage movement are missing the logical step of trying to change the Civil Partnership Bill into something better, rather focusing on the end product instead of things that will be changed soon!

  18. Something new dynamic and diverse? Sounds like a cop-out unless you can explain and justify why same-sex partnerships should be denied the right to enter a marriage.

    There are worthwhile arguments for recognition of co-habiting (non-married) couples, family members and individuals but that is no reason to deny marriage to couples who want it. It is a legal arrangement that has been around for centuries and is recognised in the charters I mentioned.

    Civil marriage for same-sex couples isn’t about making gay people conform but opening a long-standing legal protection and sign of love and commitment up to those who want it. If you don’t want to have a gay marriage and think it’s conformist, watch this:

    1. I dont see it as cop-out Joe, its what I want. You are not denied the right to marriage. You can marry any woman you want (if she agrees, of course)

      All those charters do not mention a definition of marriage. Marriage is between a man and woman.

      And Joe it is confroming. For a community that strived for so long for its own identity, now we are rushing to be exactly the same. That is, to quote Wanda, “Bullshit!”.

      long-standing legal protection and sign of love and commitment up to those who want it.

      Yea, that can be a Civil Partnership just like in the UK. If we work for it.

  19. Civil partnerships in the UK belong to the previous century. 21st century is the time of real equality, of civil marriage.

    Also, I am struggling to understand, which of two viewpoints you hold on to: “marriage is between a man and a woman” or “first we should get the CP Bill since it is what is realistic, and then sometime get the marriage rights”. Your comments look like a very random mixture of these two statements, without any logical proofs for either!

    Being proud of being gay, and marching in gay pride parades does not mean that we should be treated any differently! It’s just that the basic concepts of human rights should be applicable to us and out families, which is not the case currently.

    You destiny probably is to become a successful politician; you are quite good at stating things in a very convincing manner… convincing to those who fail to distinguish between things that are logically proved and things that are merely stated, without any logical support…

    1. I dont want Gay Marriage now or in the future but logic would dictate that a civil partnership bill now *could* lead to gay marriage later. Something I would still oppose.

      Marriage is not an unqualified right as you seem to be suggesting.

      When we march in gay pride we are saying “we are different”, it is the nature of the event.

      And to me Vlad they are logical.

  20. If I am in a same-sex relationship, I should be entitled to be treated equally under the law as every other citizen.

    If you say marriage is only for a man and a woman, you are essentially saying that a gay relationship is not equivalent to a straight one.

    By giving same-sex couples different and inferior recognition, it puts into law that it is okay to treat same-sex couples as inferior. You are essentially classing yourself as inferior.

    If you don’t want to conform – don’t get married. But don’t deny other people that chance for no good reason than your personal agenda to be recognised as different.

    If partnership is better than marriage, then why have countries like Sweden, Norway, South Africa and the Netherlands gone from only having partnership to allowing full marriage rights. You can’t even be partnershipped in Norway or Sweden any more!

  21. But Joe I am not saying they arent equivilant, I am saying they are different. It will only be inferior if we let it be inferior. Again we are being blind to oppotunity here. Its not a personal agenda Joe, it is a belief, and one I am not alone in and the rest of the Gay Community would want to wake up to because there is a serious lack of debate and in some cases respect for debate on this issue.

    I dont care what South Africa et al, do cause guess what? It dont effect me and I dont have a vote there, but I do here. And thats what matters.

  22. So is it a belief or does it have logical support? You seem to contradict yourself in the last two comments?..

    And please, don’t do that – “When we march in gay pride we are saying “we are different”, it is the nature of the event.” – it’s a bunch of bullshit. Being proud of that to me, as well as for many other gay guys whom I know, means more “not being ashamed of” (as many generations used to be). Liking guys does not make a guy different. It’s just a matter of sexual preference, and it does not really change the personality or anything. If it does in your case, I am sorry to hear that. I don’t think I am defined by my sexual orientation.

  23. You are constitutionally forbidden for having a superior institution to marriage as it is the unit on which the family is based. If CP is the same as marriage in every respect, then it is marriage by another name. Anything that is different to the previous two options is inferior.

    Even if you are against marriage for yourself, what reason do you have to deny those same-sex couples who want it? The “it doesn’t affect me” attitude is narrow-minded and surprising coming from you. Are you not going to learn from international experience and precedent?

    And this does have implications for people who live and work in different EU/non-EU countries. You could be married in one, considered strangers in another and recognised as a union/partnership with limited rights in a third. Our legislation has to take into account the arrangements internationally.

  24. @ Joe: well said! It’s really surprising that Stephen who seems to approve of Ireland being a part of Europe still wants the Dutch or Spanish same-sex couples, legally married in their countries, to have their marriage flushed down the toilet in case they want to live and work in Ireland!

  25. Those marriages would be recognised as civil partnerships. Sorry, but that’s ridiculous. I can only repeat Joe: The “it doesn’t affect me” attitude is narrow-minded and surprising coming from you. Are you not going to learn from international experience and precedent? (as well as everything else in his last comment)

  26. People in the UK want to change it into civil marriage as well.

    Really, all recent polls show that more than 60% people in Ireland do support marriage equality to the extent they will vote in favour of constitutional changes. I am almost sure that times when you’ll be invited to numerous civil marriages in Ireland are not as far away as you think.

    1. Surveys just show the majority of those surveyed. Not the reality. And there is no major campaign in the UK for marriage.

  27. To quote you Steve, I don’t care what they did in the UK – we can think for ourselves.

    Actually, I do and it’s important to recognise that gay marriage is essentially a demand for the same rights, no matter what you label it. Using a different label is bordering on derogatory. Civil partnership/union is a term used mostly for an inferior arrangement.

    While a British civil union would be recognised under Irish CP proposals, one example of the inferiority applied relates to children and parentage. Under the Irish proposal, it just doesn’t exist. One would have to be mad to move a family here and lose the recognition of being a parent. It would be impossible for you to find and solve the countless potential legal differences and loopholes so I am simply calling for the same rights as marriage for same-sex couples.

    What part of the CP legislation do you want to be different to marriage apart from the name? Do you see any difference between British civil unions and marriage?

  28. Another example – the Social Welfare Acts are only being amended to allow for pensions for civil partners. The CIE offices will still have signs up that tell ticket inspectors to look out and refuse gay pensioners trying to use the travel pass and companion pass. A spouse is strictly defined as a married husband and wife or a man and woman co-habiting as husband and wife. There is no plan to change this.

    See http://url.ie/289u and http://short.ie/dafmbg

    1. There is no plan to change it Joe we let it go through unchanged, which is what we are doing by focusing on marriage.

  29. Hmmm… do you have a remote idea about how statistics works? Is it another major belief of yours that statistical research does not represent reality?

    As for the UK campaign for marriage, don’t underestimate Peter Tatchell (google his recent articles!)…

  30. No Steve, unless you succeed in changing everything to make it equal to marriage, you are accepting inferiority. If you do succeed, it’s a marriage bill.

    The march for marriage equality showed that people want equal rights and the numbers of people willing to fight for it are growing. If no-one showed up then it would have given the green light to TDs and Senators to vote down any amendment so to come back to your original point, it was not a waste of time.

    You have also refused to answer my question on what differences to marriage would be good or how UK civil unions are not marriage or better any aspect…

    1. Joe, once its not called Marriage I dont care! I still think it was a waste of time as most TDs and Senators wont back a marriage bill! in 2006 we barely could get a majority to support a civil union bill!

  31. They will have noticed the growing movement though and that’s why I was there. It strengthens our hand in negotiations.

    I’m in favour of amending this bill until it’s as close to marriage as possible, even if the name is different. The ultimate goal though is full equality.

    As for the impossibility of the task – how long ago was it that divorce wasn’t just not supported but vehemently opposed. And it was FG in government who not just put it to the people once, but twice! Support for marriage equality in Labour and the Greens is also very high and it could easily be a pre-condition for a future coalition

  32. question for Joe

    “Another example – the Social Welfare Acts are only being amended to allow for pensions for civil partners.”

    Where did you get this information?

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