Thursday 21 September 2017

'Here we go again’ – Senior figures in Ireland’s marriage referendum help lead campaign for equality in Australia

Tiernan Brady, Director of Australia's Equality Campaign
Tiernan Brady, Director of Australia's Equality Campaign
Jason Kennedy

Jason Kennedy

Two Irishmen who helped win the yes vote in 2015's marriage equality referendum are doing their best for a similar result in Australia's upcoming plebiscite on same-sex marriage.

Donegal native Tiernan Brady has been working from Sydney since April 2016 as Director of Australia's Equality Campaign, having previously acted as Political Director during Ireland's referendum.

He was originally brought to Australia in January 2015 to spend a few days speaking to advocacy groups, but was asked to front the campaign a few days into his trip, which came as a surprise to Tiernan.

"It was a big enough journey for me moving from Bundoran to Dublin," he told Independent.ie.

"It was a wonderful opportunity to be asked and we've since build up a really good campaign team made up of some incredible people."

Despite the obvious similarities, Australia's plebiscite is more complicated that Ireland's refenrendum. While voting is usually mandatory in Australia, the public will have their say in an optional postal survey, which should be sent out to 16 million people in homes across the country in the next few weeks.

Supporters for same-sex marriage wait for the result of the referendum at Dublin Castle on May 23, 2015 in Dublin. Ireland looked set today to become the first country in the world to approve gay marriage by popular vote as crowds cheered in the streets of Dublin in anticipation of the spectacular setback for the once all-powerful Catholic Church.
AFP PHOTO / Paul FaithPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Supporters for same-sex marriage wait for the result of the referendum at Dublin Castle on May 23, 2015 in Dublin. Ireland looked set today to become the first country in the world to approve gay marriage by popular vote as crowds cheered in the streets of Dublin in anticipation of the spectacular setback for the once all-powerful Catholic Church. AFP PHOTO / Paul FaithPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Mary Lou McDonald ,Vincent Browne and Micheal Martin at Tv3's Vincent Browne Special Referendum Results Show from the George Dublin Pictures:Brian McEvoy
Celebrations at Tv3's Vincent Browne Special Referendum Results Show from the George Dublin Pictures:Brian McEvoy
'Panti Bliss' aka Rory O'Neill with John Lyons TD at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin, after Zappone proposed live on TV as votes are continued to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
'Panti Bliss' aka Rory O'Neill with Tanaiste Joan Burton at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin, after Zappone proposed live on TV as votes are continued to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
'Panti Bliss' aka Rory O'Neill with Dean McCarron at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin, after Zappone proposed live on TV as votes are continued to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
'Panti Bliss' aka Rory O'Neill with John Lyons TD at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin, after Zappone proposed live on TV as votes are continued to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
'Panti Bliss' aka Rory O'Neill with (from left) Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and Junior Finance Minister Simon Harris at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin, after Zappone proposed live on TV as votes are continued to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
People gather at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin, after Zappone proposed live on TV as votes are continued to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Drag queen and gay rights activist, Rory O'Neill, also known by his stage name Panti raises her arms by supporters for same-sex marriage at Dublin Castle as they wait for the result of the referendum on May 23, 2015. Yes voters were basking in the sunshine today as they gathered to celebrate an expected victory in Ireland's referendum on whether to approve same-sex marriage. AFP PHOTO / Paul FaithPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Senator Katherine Zappone (left) with Ann Louise Gilligan at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin, after Zappone proposed live on TV as votes are continued to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
A same-sex marriage supporter reacts at Dublin Castle in Dublin, Ireland May 23, 2015. Irish voters appear to have voted heavily in favour of allowing same-sex marriage in a historic referendum in the traditionally Catholic country, government ministers and opponents of the bill said on Saturday. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton
Same-sex marriage supporters kiss at Dublin Castle in Dublin, Ireland May 23, 2015. Irish voters appear to have voted heavily in favour of allowing same-sex marriage in a historic referendum in the traditionally Catholic country, government ministers and opponents of the bill said on Saturday. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton
Senator Katherine Zappone (left) with Ann Louise Gilligan at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin, after Zappone proposed live on TV as votes are continued to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Senator Katherine Zappone (left) with Ann Louise Gilligan at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin, after Zappone proposed live on TV as votes are continued to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 23: Drag queen artist and Yes campaign activist, Panti Bliss is interviewed bare foot by news crews as thousands gather in Dublin Castle square awaiting the referendum vote outcome on May 23, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Supporters for same-sex marriage hold an inflatable Yes sign as they wait for the announcement on the referendum in Dublin castle on May 23, 2015. Ireland appeared to have voted to allow gay marriage today in a historic referendum which would see the historically Catholic country become the world's first to make the change after a popular vote. AFP PHOTO / Paul FaithPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
A man blows bubbles as supporters for same-sex marriage wait for the result of the referendum at Dublin Castle on May 23, 2015 in Dublin. Ireland looked set today to become the first country in the world to approve gay marriage by popular vote as crowds cheered in the streets of Dublin in anticipation of the spectacular setback for the once all-powerful Catholic Church. AFP PHOTO / Paul FaithPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Supporters for same-sex marriage raise a cheer at Dublin Castle as they wait for the result of the referendum on May 23, 2015. Yes voters were basking in the sunshine today as they gathered to celebrate an expected victory in Ireland's referendum on whether to approve same-sex marriage. AFP PHOTO / Paul FaithPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 23: A cardboard cut out of popular Irish television character, Mrs. Brown is held high as supporters in favour of same-sex marriage gather in Dublin Castle square awaiting the referendum vote outcome on May 23, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
The quiz printed in the Irish Sun pushes 'offensive' stereotypes, according to an LGBT activist AFP PHOTO / Paul FaithPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Actor Andrew Scott waiting for the reults of same-sex marriage referendum at Dublin Castle. Pic:Mark Condren 23.5.2015
Crowds gather for the reults of same-sex marriage referendum at Dublin Castle. Pic:Mark Condren 23.5.2015
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin waiting for the reults of same-sex marriage referendum at Dublin Castle. Pic:Mark Condren 23.5.2015
Molly Croke, Adam Bowe, Lucy Bowe, Senan Croke and Sadie Bowe from Bray wait for the reults of same-sex marriage referendum at Dublin Castle. Pic:Mark Condren 23.5.2015
Molly Croke, Adam Bowe, Lucy Bowe, Senan Croke and Sadie Bowe from Bray wait for the reults of same-sex marriage referendum at Dublin Castle. Pic:Mark Condren 23.5.2015
Crowds wait outside for the reults of same-sex marriage referendum at Dublin Castle. Pic:Mark Condren 23.5.2015
Rory O'Neill (Panti) meets with T?naiste Joan Burton at the reults of same-sex marriage referendum at Dublin Castle. Also included is John Lyons and Aodh?n ? R?ord?in Pic:Mark Condren 23.5.2015
Crowds gather for the reults of same-sex marriage referendum at Dublin Castle. Pic:Mark Condren 23.5.2015
Crowds gather for the reults of same-sex marriage referendum at Dublin Castle. Pic:Mark Condren 23.5.2015
Same-sex marriage supporters pose for a photograph at Dublin Castle in Dublin, Ireland May 23, 2015. Irish voters appear to have voted heavily in favour of allowing same-sex marriage in a historic referendum in the traditionally Catholic country, government ministers and opponents of the bill said on Saturday. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton
Aishling Dolan and Clodagh Leonard, Emma Skelly and Sinead Dolan celebrate the Yes vote in Dublin Castle. Pictutre; GERRY MOONEY. 23/5/15
Same-sex marriage supporters kiss at Dublin Castle in Dublin, Ireland May 23, 2015. Irish voters appear to have voted heavily in favour of allowing same-sex marriage in a historic referendum in the traditionally Catholic country, government ministers and opponents of the bill said on Saturday. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton
Same-sex marriage supporters kiss at Dublin Castle in Dublin, Ireland May 23, 2015. Irish voters appear to have voted heavily in favour of allowing same-sex marriage in a historic referendum in the traditionally Catholic country, government ministers and opponents of the bill said on Saturday. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton
A same-sex marriage supporter reacts at Dublin Castle in Dublin, Ireland May 23, 2015. Irish voters appear to have voted heavily in favour of allowing same-sex marriage in a historic referendum in the traditionally Catholic country, government ministers and opponents of the bill said on Saturday. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton
Same-sex marriage supporter Panti Bliss reacts at Dublin Castle in Dublin, Ireland May 23, 2015. Irish voters appear to have voted heavily in favour of allowing same-sex marriage in a historic referendum in the traditionally Catholic country, government ministers and opponents of the bill said on Saturday. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton
Drag queen and gay rights activist Rory O'Neill, known by his stage name as Panti Bliss arrives at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin, as votes continue to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Drag queen and gay rights activist Rory O'Neill, known by his stage name as Panti Bliss arrives at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin, as votes continue to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
A same-sex marriage supporter reacts at Dublin Castle in Dublin, Ireland May 23, 2015. Irish voters appear to have voted heavily in favour of allowing same-sex marriage in a historic referendum in the traditionally Catholic country, government ministers and opponents of the bill said on Saturday. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton
Drag queen and gay rights activist Rory O'Neill, known by his stage name as Panti Bliss arrives at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin, as votes continue to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Drag queen and gay rights activist Rory O'Neill (centre), known by his stage name as Panti Bliss with with Senator David Norris (left) and Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin, as votes continue to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Drag queen and gay rights activist Rory O'Neill, known by his stage name as Panti Bliss kisses Senator David Norris (left) as Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams looks on at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin, as votes are continued to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
A gay marriage supporter kisses her rosary beads at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin, as votes are continued to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Yes supporters wait for the final result in the Irish referendum at Dublin Castle, Ireland, Saturday, May 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
Drag queen and gay rights activist Rory O'Neill (centre), known by his stage name as Panti Bliss has his photo taken with Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams and Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald (right) at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin, as votes continue to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Paul Bonass (left) and Luke Hoare Greene share a kiss at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin as votes are continued to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Rory O'Neill (Panti) ARRIVING for the reults of same-sex marriage referendum at Dublin Castle. Pic:Mark Condren 23.5.2015
A same-sex marriage supporter poses for a photograph at Dublin Castle in Dublin, Ireland May 23, 2015. Irish voters appear to have voted heavily in favour of allowing same-sex marriage in a historic referendum in the traditionally Catholic country, government ministers and opponents of the bill said on Saturday. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton
A same-sex marriage supporter poses for a photograph at Dublin Castle in Dublin, Ireland May 23, 2015. Irish voters appear to have voted heavily in favour of allowing same-sex marriage in a historic referendum in the traditionally Catholic country, government ministers and opponents of the bill said on Saturday. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton
Bridget Hogg with a cardboard cutout of comedy creation Mrs Brown at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin as votes are continued to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
A Yes campaigner poses for a picture in Dublin Castle as Ireland holds a referendum on gay marriage May 23, 2015. Irish voters backed same-sex marriage by a landslide in a referendum marking a dramatic social shift in the traditionally Catholic country, government ministers and opponents of the bill said on Saturday.REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton
The sun shines as people gather at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin as votes are continued to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Erin Reddy, Dee Campbell and Helen McCarthy at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin as votes are continued to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Erin Reddy (left) and Dee Campbell at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin as votes are continued to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 23: Supporters in favour of same-sex marriage pose for a photograph as thousands gather in Dublin Castle square awaiting the referendum vote outcome on May 23, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Supporters for same-sex marriage raise a cheer at Dublin Castle as they wait for the result of the referendum on May 23, 2015. Yes voters were basking in the sunshine today as they gathered to celebrate an expected victory in Ireland's referendum on whether to approve same-sex marriage. AFP PHOTO / Paul FaithPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 23: Supporters in favour of same-sex marriage pose for a photograph as thousands gather in Dublin Castle square awaiting the referendum vote outcome on May 23, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Supporters for same-sex marriage raise a cheer at Dublin Castle as they wait for the result of the referendum on May 23, 2015. Yes voters were basking in the sunshine today as they gathered to celebrate an expected victory in Ireland's referendum on whether to approve same-sex marriage. AFP PHOTO / Paul FaithPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 23: Supporters in favour of same-sex marriage pose for a photograph as thousands gather in Dublin Castle square awaiting the referendum vote outcome on May 23, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
People gather at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin as votes are continued to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
People gather at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin as votes are continued to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Supporters of same-sex marriage wait for the announcement of the referendum in Dublin castle on May 23, 2015. Ireland appeared to have voted to allow gay marriage today in a historic referendum which would see the historically Catholic country become the world's first to make the change after a popular vote. AFP PHOTO / Paul FaithPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Supporters for same-sex marriage wait for the announcement of the referendum in Dublin castle on May 23, 2015. Ireland appeared to have voted to allow gay marriage today in a historic referendum which would see the historically Catholic country become the world's first to make the change after a popular vote. AFP PHOTO / Paul FaithPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Supporters for same-sex marriage hold an inflatable Yes sign as they wait for the announcement on the referendum in Dublin castle on May 23, 2015. Ireland appeared to have voted to allow gay marriage today in a historic referendum which would see the historically Catholic country become the world's first to make the change after a popular vote. AFP PHOTO / Paul FaithPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images

Campaign groups for and against marriage equality are currently embroiled on what's expected to be a more bitterly-fought movement than Ireland faced two years ago.

If all goes to plan, the results should be in by mid-November and, similarly to Ireland's Citizens' Assembly, this will allow the Australian Parliament to act accordingly. Unlike Ireland's Citizens' Assembly, the Parliament will have to deal with the issue straight away. This whole process is estimated to cost around €84 million ($125 million AUS).

Despite all this being put in place, the whole thing is currently before the High Court to find out if the process is legally standing.

Although this process is drawn-out and complicated, Tiernan believes it is a winable.

"Every poll for more than 10 years has shown support for this in Australia," said Tiernan, who formerly worked with now defunct charity GLEN.

"It’s pretty evenly spread, but there’s some small variation. Obviously there was a heavy yes in urban areas and still a yes in rural areas, more or less the same as Ireland actually.

"Australia is just so large. It's a five hour flight from Sydney to Perth. The geographical scale is the main difference. In Ireland, we could get up in the morning and drive to the other side of the county, have lunch and be home again later. We don’t have that here."

Although scale is a big issue, Tiernan, a Leukaemia survivor, says there are way more similarities than differences in the two massive campaigns.

"Like Ireland, here’s a real ‘live and let live’ attitude in Australia and a real commitment to fairness. I find the values that people have here so much like Ireland."

In recent days, Tiernan has enlisted the help of Yes Equality's Social Media Officer Craig Dwyer, who ran the campaign's award-winning social channels.

Dwyer, who is campaigning in Australia on a voluntary capacity, only landed on Sunday, but has already begun work.

"I was watching the campaign closely from my office on Capel Street in Dublin, feeling a certain sense of nostaglia and desperately wanting to be involved so I jumped at the chance," he said.

"I got the call at 3am on Tuesday and was on the plane to Sydney by Friday night and in the campaign offices that Monday morning."

Craig (2).jpg
Craig Dwyer during the marriage equality campaign

"It's like we put the band partly back together. More of a duet than a band," Tiernan said.

"Craig’s brilliant. I’ve asked him to come over and volunteer. He’s taken to it like a duck to water."

The next few weeks are going to be critical for Australia's marriage equality campaign and global commentators predict the campaign to only get more bitter.

Over the weekend, the first major 'vote no' advertisement aired on Australian television and has been accused of scaremongering. Posters with 'Stop The Fags' have materialised in major urban areas have also caused anger amongst the LGBT community and its allies.

 Although this campaign is facing hostility it didn't in Ireland, Tiernan is not sorry he decided to put himself through another gruelling campaign.

"It’s the right thing to do. The great thing about coming from Ireland is we know what the other side of this looks like. It would be fabulous if we could get another country get through this."

Brady also urged people who know Australians living in Ireland to encourage them to vote. This should be a respectful campaign that unites the country because everyone has to live here the day afterwards.

"Give them a call and tell them how important it is and how great it felt for us. 

"Let’s get this across the line."

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