As the debates around reproductive rights in Ireland comes to a head this May, author and prominent queer activist Una Mullally captures the pro-choice movement in literature and art in her new book Repeal the 8th.
In 2016 alone 3,265 Irish women and girls made the trip to the UK in order to access UK abortion services. Mullally is endeavouring to highlight the cultural impact the 8th amendment has had on the artistic output of Irish writers, photographers and artists. Contributors to the anthology include Lisa McInerney, Anne Enright, Louise O’Neill, Caitlin Moran, Tara Flynn, Aisling Bing, Sinead Gleeson & Emmet Kiran.
In this month’s issue, Aifric Ní Chríodáin caught up with Una to discuss what has been heralded as the “definitive collection of the art inspired by the most pressing debate in contemporary Ireland, and beyond”:
“The Repeal the 8th Anthology is a book of art and literature that is inspired by the pro-choice movement. I was keen to do something a little bit more abstract than a history book or a campaigning book. The idea that we don’t have abortion as healthcare here influences our psyche and our experiences and I think writers are taking what that landscape means and making stories out of it. I want to show people outside of Ireland the type of art that is emerging from this movement.
“Repealing the 8th Amendment is a queer issue for so many reasons. It’s about autonomy, something that queer people have struggled for, and continue to struggle for, across the world – to be in control of ourselves, in control of our own decisions about our bodies. This is not a matter for public consumption or for the constitution in the same way that the lives of queer people are not for public debate. It is a matter for trans men in particular, for lesbian and bisexual women, non-binary and genderqueer people.
“I think when people say that it’s not a queer issue, those people need to examine what they consider the queer community to be, and that perspective needs to broaden to include the whole community.
“What we learned from the marriage equality referendum is the value of conversations, of people speaking openly and honestly about their experiences. In the same way that straight people stood with queer people, we have to stand up for women in Ireland right now.”
The Repeal the 8th Anthology is published on April 5.
Read the rest of Aifric Ní Chríodáin’s interviews with the queer women activists making waves in Ireland in Issue 339 of GCN:
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