Taoiseach delighted as ‘marriage equality becomes a reality’

Same sex marriages in other countries are recognised under Irish law from Monday

Trina Tsai at the office of BelonG To where a book on the Marriage Equality Campaign by Anna Carey was launched. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Trina Tsai at the office of BelonG To where a book on the Marriage Equality Campaign by Anna Carey was launched. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

 

From Monday the first tranche of same-sex marriages made in other countries gained legal recognition in Ireland.

To mark the day, Taoiseach Enda Kenny sent a letter to members of the national organisation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Trans young people in Ireland, BelongTo.

The May 2015 referendum was about “love and equality,” Mr Kenny wrote in a letter read out by Minister for Children and Youth Affairs James Reilly at the BelongTo offices in central Dublin.

“I was struck by the young people I met. They wanted to belong to an Ireland where their voices are heard. I am delighted that marriage equality becomes a reality as of today,” Mr Kenny wrote.

“It’s very important that when we do something right, we celebrate it,” Mr Reilly added before chief executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, Tanya Ward, noted that Mr Reilly had helped the Yes vote in the Marriage Equality referendum in two significant ways.

“He’s a man. And he’s straight (at least I think he is). His opinion was vital,” she said.

Meanwhile, it was noted the number of young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people accessing support services run by BeLonG To has grown by more than 100 per cent since the referendum.

Trina Tsai, an advocacy officer with the organisation, said this was not a surprise.

“Calls from parents looking for supports and advice, calls from LGBT young people from all over Ireland wanting access to services. LGBT people are now much more visible. They saw the posters, heard the contributions and are much more aware of gender and sexuality issues,” she said.

“The upside of the Yes Equality campaign is a huge increase in visibility and confidence, but the downside is that many people need to work things through as it brought up a lot of issues,” she said.

The incoming head of BelongTo, Monnine Griffith, who led marriage equality for eight years, said that although Ireland has been transformed for the better, “we have more work to do to stamp out homophobia and transphobia in Irish schools, our communitues and society”.

Minister Reilly agreed. “We need to open our society up to challenge people who have a view based on lack of knowledge and understanding. What a wonderful year - the message that it sends out about Ireland to the rest of the world. Let’s not stop. Let’s continue the progress.”

The eBook BeLonG To YES: Voices from the Marriage Equality Campaign which tells the story of the role the BeLonG To YES campaign played in mobilising the youth vote and securing a Yes vote on May 22nd can be downloaded for free on belongto.org