“I couldn’t tell anyone that I suspected I might be gay because society didn’t let me,” McAleese said.
“You might also ask yourself: ‘What does this referendum have to do with me?’” he added. “Maybe you think you don’t know any gay people or you don’t have an opinion one way or the other.
“But how do you know that your niece, nephew, son, daughter, grandson or granddaughter isn’t going to be one of those 7,200 children born now who will have to come to terms with their sexuality in 12 years’ time?”
BeLonG To, the national organisation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young people, welcomed Justin McAleese’s words.
Michael Barron, Founding Director of BeLonG To, said: “Justin’s mother, Mary, has been a long-term supporter of BeLonG To, and we are very grateful for the backing she has given our organisation down through the years.
“Justin has now spoken publicly about his experience of coming out and his very personal motivation for asking people to vote ‘yes’ on May 22. His words are brave and inspiring, and I have no doubt they will provide comfort and hope for young people throughout the country who are feeling isolated because of their sexuality.”
BeLonG To is spearheading the largest coalition of youth organisations supporting a Yes vote in the referendum – under the BeLonG To YES banner. Organisations involved include the ISPCC, Barnardos, Foróige, Youth Work Ireland, the Migrant Rights Centre, Headstrong, Yes Equality, the Children’s Rights Alliance, Pavee Point and EPIC.
Last week, former President Mary McAleese also called for a Yes vote, saying: “It is a debate about children, people have been saying it’s about children – and we believe it to be about Ireland’s gay children and about their future and about the kind of future we want for Ireland. We want, in the words of the proclamation: ‘The children of a nation to be cherished equally’.”
© 2015 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.