Same-Sex Marriage 'No' Campaign Had "A Highly Detrimental Impact"

'No' campaign posters on the left with Pantibar on the right with a giant YES on it's windows

New study of Ireland’s same-sex marriage referendum uncovers the negative impact the ‘No’ campaign had on Irish LGBT people


New research carried out by The University of Queensland and University of Victoria examined experiences of Irish LGBT people and their close friends and family surrounding the ‘No’ campaign in the run up to and following the 2015 referendum on same-sex marriage.

The study revealed that only 23 per cent of respondents would choose to go through the campaign again.

“Only 23 per cent indicated they would be happy to have the referendum again,” said Dr Dane from The University of Queensland’s School of Psychology.


Young LGBT Impacted

“Nearly three quarters of them said the ‘No’ campaign had a highly detrimental impact on young LGBTI people and the children of LGBTI parents.”

Dr Dane said that many young LGBT people were offended upon hearing the debate on same-sex marriage in Ireland in the lead up to the referendum in May of last year.

“They told of having to sit at the dinner table listening to their parents and grandparents sitting around talking about how disgusting it was,” Dr Dane said on Saturday.”

“A majority of LGBTI people reported strong feelings of anxiety and anger when exposed to the ‘No’ campaign.


About The Survey

The anonymous online survey was completed by over 1600 people in Ireland, which is leading the researchers to call the findings statistically significant.

The survey was completed by gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans and intersex people and their families who were living in Ireland during the run up to the same-sex marriage referendum on 22 May 2015.

Speaking of the results of the survey, Dr Dane declared that they were statistically significant.

“They’re accurate, we wouldn’t have published them if we didn’t think so,” she said.

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Behind The Smiles

Although there was a public celebration on May 23 2015 when the results for same-sex marriage were announced, with scenes of jubilation throughout the country, Dr Dane tells of how images of celebration masked the impact that the ‘No’ campaign had on LGBT people.

“Results show the euphoric TV images after the referendum, hid the reality of the negative social and psychological impacts of the campaign on the daily lives of LGBTI people and their families,” Dr Dane said.

“They told of how proud they were of the outcome, but despite the positive outcome they suffered ‘a lot of negativity’.”

“What I found most disturbing is that younger LGBTI people are already vulnerable and they were the ones reporting being most anxious and afraid in the lead-up to the referendum,” Dr Dane said.


The ‘No’ Megaphone


Dr Liz Short from Victoria University said that respondents told of the national platform for intolerance and homophobia that those who were opposed to same-sex marriage were given in the run up to the referendum.

“This research provides very clear evidence that significant social and psychological detriment results from holding a nation-wide debate,” Dr Short said.

“A debate calls into question whether all families, children and parents should have the same rights, recognition and options.”

Dr Short tells how respondents felt the ‘No’ campaign represented families with both a mother and a father as the preferred model.

“Respondents reported the main focus of the ‘No’ campaign was to portray families headed by a married mother and father as ‘real’, ‘ideal’, ‘acceptable’ and ‘respectable’ – and others as less so,” Dr Short said.


February 2017 Plebiscite

While the Australian government has planned a plebiscite for 11 February 2017, the results of this study may provide enough cause for such a vote to be reconsidered.

Supporters of the plebiscite argue that the federal government already took the issue to federal election, with a plebiscite being decided upon and that the democratic process should be respected.

Marches in support of legislating for same-sex marriage in Australia without the need for a plebiscite took place in Sydney and Melbourne at the weekend, with another march planned to take place in Brisbane this weekend.

(Image: Flickr, CC2.0)

© 2016 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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