Mary McAleese calls for renewed action on LGBT+ equality in Ireland on anniversary of marriage referendum

Commemorating the fifth anniversary of marriage equality, Mary McAleese highlighted the need for adequate Hate Crime Law and inclusive education for LGBT+ youth.

Split screen of a woman speaking and a crowd celebrating

Former President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, declared marriage equality as “a start not a finish line” during a powerful call for renewed action towards ensuring LGBT+ equality.

On the fifth anniversary of the historic moment Ireland voted yes to marriage equality, Mary McAleese called for “fresh momentum” in tackling ongoing issues in terms of education and discrimination. In an Irish Times article, she praised the community spirit which made the positive referendum result possible while also addressing the need for further action. 

McAleese wrote, “The 62% Yes vote was a good start, a big step into that future. It offered the LGBT+ community a firm sense of acceptance and gave LGBT+ young people the freedom to dream about a future untroubled by past attitudes and inequalities. The hope it generated cannot be underestimated but it left work to be done to make it real.”

To commemorate five years of marriage equality, LGBT+ people have been sharing their memories to highlight the scope of what went into securing the monumental victory. Bringing together incredible everyday activism, opening up to family members, and, above all, celebrating community spirit, the vote was a seismic effort on all fronts. 

Ahead of GCN’s Mar Ref – 5 Years On live event, one person shared, “Five years ago today, #MarRef was a great time to work with USI. My civil rights weren’t up for public debate and appreciate it wasn’t as easy as it was for me as others. Five years on, we need to finish the job and give LGBT+ parents equal rights, it’s gone on too long.”

Marriage equality was a highly emotional moment in Irish history as it felt that the LGBT+ community were being both seen and heard. Throughout the past, queer people have fought for their right to be recognised against a conservative State, as highlighted by the Declan Flynn and Charles Self murder cases

On the fifth anniversary of marriage equality, LGBT+ people look back on what has been achieved and what still requires much needed action. Through a long history of queer people fighting to live openly, this day of celebration was brought to reality. 

As seen in recent years, parental rights, education, Hate Crime legislation, members of the queer community living in Direct Provision, and trans rights require that same level of momentum to ensure further equality. Upon accepting the Person of Year Award at the GALAS, Evgeny Shtorn expressed the need for continuous action, “I want this to be just the beginning of a struggle for the better Ireland that we all deserve.”

In the Irish Times article on marriage equality, Mary McAleese further wrote, “Five years later we are entitled to look back at that watershed moment with a sense of national pride. It was, however, a start not a finish line, and we now need to galvanise fresh momentum to bring about an end to the continuing suffering of the LGBT+ community and especially of its younger members.”

Remember to share your own #MarRefMemories on social media and tune in to GCN’s YouTube page this Saturday May 23 for Mar Ref – 5 Years On. You can support GCN by texting “GCN” to 50300 to donate €4 or by visiting our support page here. Text costs €4. GCN will receive a minimum of €3.25 per text. Service Provider: LIKECHARITY. Helpline: 076 6805278.

© 2020 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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