This weekend Ireland made history as it became the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage following a nation-wide referendum. Hundreds assembled in Dublin Castle’s courtyard to hear the result announced, and as the "yes" result was announced, the crowd melted into a sea of flickering rainbow flags and tearful eyes.
Amid clinching couples and streams of confetti, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams took to the stage with a drag queen to welcome the referendum result. For many Irish LGBT activists, myself included, the scene would have been unimaginable merely years ago. It was impossible not to be struck by how far the movement has come.
However, we mustn’t kid ourselves that the fight for LGBT rights in Ireland is over yet.
Too often equal marriage is conflated with absolute LGBT equality. Marriage is a gesture and a powerful one at that, but it is the tip, rather than the pinnacle of the struggle for LGBT rights in Ireland.
Here are just some of the other LGBT inequalities inshrined in Irish law which we must fight next:
Schools can sack teachers for being gay
In Ireland, schools are entitled to sack teachers for being gay. Under Section 37 of the Irish constitution, religious-run schools (which are the overwhelming majority in the country) are exempt from discrimination legislation and can dismiss from employment any teacher who they feel goes against the "ethos" of the school.
As a result, many gay teachers in Ireland are forced to hide their sexuality and live in a constant state of anxiety that they will lose their jobs if outed.
The state doesn’t recognise the existence of trans people
As it stands, Irish law in no way acknowledges the existence of its transgender citizens. A transgender woman called Dr Lydia Foy has spent two decades in legal loggerheads with the state as she has taken multiple legal challenges to have her gender recognised by the government issuing her a new birth certificate as a woman. The state has always insisted in its refusal to issue her with a new birth certificate recognising her identity, as the country’s legislation simply does not provide for gender identities other than those assigned at birth.
Six years ago, a court found that the government was violating the European Convention on Human Rights in how it has treated Dr Foy. In December 2014 the government attempted to address this by publishing a draft Gender Recognition Bill which has been widely criticised as being botched and inadequate. The government has yet to resolve the issue.
Irish gay marriage vote results: In pictures
Irish gay marriage vote results: In pictures
1/11 Drag queen Panti Bless and crowd celebrate a Yes victory
Drag artist and Yes activist Panti Bliss joins supporters to celebrate in front of Dublin Castle
2/11 The celebrations started last night in Dublin and continued all day
A couple celebrating in Dublin
3/11 A woman heading to the polling station yesterday
Woman walks past a mural of two rainbow coloured hearts on polling day. Polling stations in the 43 constituencies across country opened their doors yesterday to vote on legalising same sex marriage
4/11 A 'Yes to Equality' badge
A pro-gay marriage badge on a voter's lapel in gaelic meaning "Yes to Equality" seen in Dublin on polling day.
5/11 A cafe in Dublin lending its support to the cause
Many businesses in Ireland have got involved in the campaign, declaring their support for both the Yes and No campaigns
6/11 Two campaign posters side by side posters on a Dublin street
Both sides have campaigned fiercely saying they are fighting for social freedom
7/11 Newly married couple share their support for a Yes vote
Newly married Anna and Vincent Fox share a kiss as they mark their support for a Yes vote in Dublin on polling day
8/11 50 foot mural on the wall of Caherkinmonwee Castle in Galway to celebrate gay marriage
A 50 foot referendum mural created by artist Joe Caslin to promote a Yes vote
9/11 Supporters celebrate an expected Yes vote
Supporters in favour of same-sex marriage pose for a photograph as thousands gather in Dublin Castle
10/11 Couple waiting for the result in Dublin Castle
Erin Reddy (left) and Dee Campell awaiting the result at Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle
11/11 A gay marriage activist kisses her rosary beads in celebration
A gay marriage supporter kisses her rosary beads at the Central Count Centre at Dublin Castle
There is no hate crime legislation
Unlike in the UK, Hate Crimes are not officially outlined in legislation. Many believe this results in homophobic and transphobic crimes being massively under reported.
Jennifer Schweppe, law lecturer at the University of Limerick, says: “Ireland is outstanding as being the only western democracy without hate crime legislation.” In a country of 4.5m, just 18 incidences of homophobia were reported by police in 2013, and according to research, people are 22 times more likely to report such incidents in England and Wales than in Ireland.
Gay men are still banned from donating blood
Any man who has ever had sex with another man is banned from donating blood in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The policy of banning gay men for life from donating blood was common throughout Europe in the 1980s amid concerns about HIV but has since been dismissed as “not being rooted in modern scientific evidence”.
The policy has been revised in England, Scotland and Wales since 2011 to instead restrict gay men from donating during the twelve month period following intercourse but remains in place in Ireland.Reuse content