Dublin Pride celebrations soured by anger over Civil Partnership Bill


THERE WAS dissatisfaction with the Civil Partnership Bill among a larger than expected crowd which marched in the Dublin Pride Parade at the weekend.

The city centre was filled with colour, costumes, balloons, music, whistles and chants on Saturday as thousands of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community made their way from the Garden of Remembrance, down O’Connell Street and Dame Street to a rally at Dublin City civic offices.

Organisers estimate that 12,000 people took part in the parade.

The parade followed the publication of the Civil Partnership Bill by the Government on Friday that will give statutory partnership rights to gay and lesbian couples but stops short of allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry.

The Bill was compared to an “apartheid system” by the parade grand marshall, UCD academic and feminist activist Ailbhe Smyth. “We are not to be insulted and humiliated, we want marriage for lesbians and gays, our goal is equality,” she told the rally.

A copy of the Bill was ripped up to the cheers of the crowd by Anna McCarthy of protest organisation LGBT Noise. “Civil partnership will officially make us second class citizens in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of society,” she said. She urged the crowd to increase lobbying before the Bill was debated by the Dáil in the autumn.

Parade host Miss Panti (aka Rory O’Neill) spoke of the division in the LGBT community over the Civil Partnership Bill. “Some think it is a stepping stone to full equality, some disagree and think full equality is the only thing that we can accept, all agree that the proposed Bill does not go far enough,” Miss Panti said, urging the community not to become divided because they all had the same goal. “Anyone can get married in this country except you, any soccer hooligan, any gay basher, any fascist, any murderer, any sex offender can get married, but you cannot,” said Miss Panti.

“Pride and Prejudice” was the theme of the parade with many wearing half a tuxedo or half a wedding dress to symbolise the “half measures” offered in the Bill.

Katherine Zappone and Ann Louise Gilligan marched in the dresses they wore for their Canadian wedding in 2003. The couple is awaiting a date for their Supreme Court appeal to a High Court ruling against their claim to have their marriage recognised for the filing of joint tax returns.

LGBT groups from Kerry, Waterford and Galway marched alongside members of the gay rugby team the Emerald Warriors, the gay football team the Dublin Devils FC, and LGBT sections of unions and political parties. The Civil Partnership Bill is due to be enacted by the end of the year, the Government has said. The rights and obligations include the protection of a shared home, pension rights and the right to succession.