Sunday 11 December 2016

Ireland should become international advocate of gay rights, says Eamon Gilmore

Ed Carty

Published 24/05/2015 | 15:42

Ireland should become the international advocate for gay rights, a key figure in spearheading the country's vote for same-sex marriage has said.

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Former Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore, who pushed the coalition government to hold the historic referendum, said the landmark ballot puts an onus on the Republic to fight oppression on the global stage.

ADVOCATE: Eamon Gilmore
ADVOCATE: Eamon Gilmore
The Yes Equality campaign bus, which has been on a nationwide tour of towns and villages across Ireland making the case for a Yes vote on 22 May, rolled into Dun Laoghaire today (Sunday 10 May 2015) where it was warmly welcomed by Yes Equality campaigners, alongside Marian Keyes, Eamon Gilmore TD and others

"I think we do need to take this result and advance it but to advance it internationally rather than domestically," he said.

"If you look at many parts of the world it is not just gay marriage is not available to gay people it is that homosexual people in many parts of the world are persecuted, are criminalised and really are second class citizens."

Read more here: A new beginning: 'Rainbow nation' Ireland makes history  

On the back of the resounding yes for gay marriage - 1.2 million Irish voters backed it - attention is now turning to when the first ceremonies will take place.

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
Celebrating after announcing the reults of same-sex marriage referendum at Dublin Castle. Pic:Mark Condren 23.5.2015
Celebrating after announcing the reults of same-sex marriage referendum at Dublin Castle. Pic:Mark Condren 23.5.2015
Yes voters celebrate at the Central Count Centre in Dublin, as the result of the referendum is announced which showed that Ireland as the country overwhelmingly voted in favour of gay marriage.
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)

New laws are expected to be passed by the Dail parliament before the summer recess, with couples obliged to give a registrar the standard three month notification of a wedding day.

Read more here: When my 94-year-old gran heard I was gay, she replied 'And? So what?'  

While there are likely to be exceptions to the wait, in circumstances such as serious illness, the first ceremonies are not expected until late autumn.

Within hours of the victory for gay rights campaigners, the reform was being billed as a massive boost for the Republic's reputation on the international stage, sentiments backed by former foreign affairs minister Mr Gilmore.

"Around the world today there are countries that have people who are looking at Ireland and looking at it favourably, want to visit, want to be part of it, and see it in an entirely new light," he told RTE Radio.

Read more here: We did it! Winning with skin in the game  

Celebrations 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
Mary Lou McDonald ,Vincent Browne and Micheal Martin at Tv3's Vincent Browne Special Referendum Results Show from the George Dublin Pictures:Brian McEvoy
The Celebration of the Yes Vote at Tv3's Vincent Browne Special Referendum Results Show from the George Dublin Pictures:Brian McEvoy No Repro fee for one use
The Celebration of the Yes Vote at Tv3's Vincent Browne Special Referendum Results Show from the George Dublin Pictures:Brian McEvoy
Davina Devine and dancers join in theCelebrations of the Yes Vote at Tv3's Vincent Browne Special Referendum Results Show from the George Dublin Pictures:Brian McEvoy No Repro fee for one use
Celebrations of the Yes Vote at Tv3's Vincent Browne Special Referendum Results Show from the George Dublin Pictures:Brian McEvoy

"I think we also have an obligation to take that decision, to take that mandate, to take the moral authority from that vote and to become international advocates for the rights of LGBT people who are being oppressed.

"It gives Ireland an opportunity to take on a role that fits very well with the human rights role that we have always pursued - to become the international advocates, to use the authority of that ballot box on Friday to make the world a better place for the LGBT community."

Read more here: Yes I said yes I will yes!  

It is only 22 years since homosexuality was decriminalised in the Republic.

Passed by 62pc of voters, the referendum heralded a dramatic shift in social values for a country traditionally held up as a bastion of Catholicism and conservative lifestyles.

It also saw Irish voters write the country into history books as it became the first time gay marriage has been backed by a popular vote.

Government officials will now set about enshrining a new section in the 1937 Constitution stating that "Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex."

Read more here: 'The days when bishops tell people to vote is long since gone,' Archbishop Diarmuid Martin on #MarRef  

Elsewhere, the result sparked some soul searching in one of the country's leading Catholic clerics.

Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin, declared the groundswell of support for same-sex couples a social revolution and warned that it did not happen in the day before polling.

Read more here: 'Reality check' needed for Church to connect with youth  

"I think really the Church needs to do a reality check," the cleric said.

The huge majority for gay marriage also raised questions about if or when a similar referendum or reform would be introduced in Northern Ireland - the only region of the UK not to adopt similar laws.

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