Path to Marriage Equality had many champions

23 May 2020

Five years after Ireland voted overwhelmingly for marriage equality Labour LGBT said there was still more to be achieved, but remembered the historic role of Eamon Gilmore and the Labour Party in bringing forward the 2015 referendum, and the huge grassroots campaign of people coming together to achieve equality that inspired a generation.

Labour LGBT Co Chairs Aoife Leahy and James Joy said:

“This day five years ago ballot boxes were being opened in count centres around the country, and the scale of the Yes votes was quickly apparent. Due to Ireland’s past of very tight referendum votes on social issues, it was always felt this could be a close contest. We could never be certain that it would be Yes despite all the positive signs, when we had seen wafer close counts before.

“As we remember the great result in 2015, we also must acknowledge how much there is still to do. In 2020, there is still unfinished business to ensure equality for everyone in Ireland regardless of their sexual orientation or their gender identity. Working with our Labour colleages we will continue to champion LGBTI+ rights in our Council Chambers, in the Oireachtas, in our society, and around the world.

“As Eamon Gilmore said last night , in too many countries LGBTI people still suffer discrimination and persecution and that work for human rights continues.

“It is important today that we remember all those who played a role in getting us to where we are today. Once it became clear that a change to our Constitution was needed, the referedum was never a certainty and from when Labour first called for it 2011 there were many conservative voices opposed to a public vote.

“Over 9 years ago in the 2011 Programme for Government then Labour Party Leader Eamon Gilmore secured a constitutional convention that would consider marriage equality, and this political victory paved the way for our historic vote that we remember this weekend.

“Over generations we have worked with activists and campaigners in our own party, and outside, to deliver LGBT rights in Ireland. There have been successes and set backs, but we have always sought equality.

“It’s now over fifty years since the events that led up to Stonewall, but there is a growing population of LGBTI+ people who will have their own healthcare, social and family law needs, and our public services must recognise that. So there is much we still want to change, but most importantly even though we can’t hold Pride parades or gather together to mark that joyous day in Dublin Castle, we can still celebrate, remember all that has been done, and organise to secure the next achievements.”

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