Protesters call for marriage equality

 

SUPPORTERS OF civil partnership equality have accused the Government of contributing to bullying in schools by not giving the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community equal rights to everyone else.

Thousands of people took to the streets of Dublin yesterday to demand civil marriage equality. Holding banners with slogans such as “marriage is magic”, “I want for my sister what I have for myself – equality”, and “73% support gay marriage”, an estimated 4,000 people marched to the Department of Justice on St Stephen’s Green where a rally was held.

Organiser Max Krzyzanowski urged the Government to listen to the repeated calls highlighting the inequalities of civil partnership legislation and demonstrate its commitment to equality for all by lifting the ban on same-sex marriage.

He maintained the Civil Partnership Act, 2011, had only served to cement inequality in Irish society by explicitly excluding LGBT people from the institution of marriage.

His fellow LGBT Noise organiser Anna MacCarthy said the Government was out of step with the public mood on the issue of marriage equality.

“We need Fine Gael to catch up with public opinion,” she said.

If someone enters a civil partnership with a child, their partner is not entitled to legally act as a step-parent, she said, adding “the non-biological parent is a legal stranger to the child”.

Addressing the crowd, Bobby Edgar, chairman of the anti-homophobic bullying group the Butterfly Project, said he hid himself away at school for fear of bullies.

“I felt if I let bullies know I was different, I’d be targeted,” he said, adding: “I may not have been bullied at school but I’m being bullied now – by the Government – depriving me of marriage equality.

“Our Government is adding to the bullying in schools by saying the LGBT community isn’t equal to everyone else,” he said.

Among those calling on the Government to lift the ban on same-sex marriages were presidential candidate Mary Davis, Senator Katherine Zappone and singer Brian Kennedy.

“This is a human rights issue,” said Kennedy.

“I thought the Civil Partnership Bill was the final destination. I misunderstood it completely,” he said.

“There are 150 anomalies between civil partnership and civil marriage; this is the first rung on the ladder, but there are many rungs still to climb until we reach equality.”

Speaking after the rally, Kennedy said he was very disappointed Senator David Norris had withdrawn from the presidential race, and that he would not rule out running himself.

“Someone asked me at a gig last night if I’d consider running, and I would consider it.

“I think President Kennedy has a nice ring to it,” he added.

Megan Murphy and James Watson, who travelled from Portarlington, Co Laois, for the rally, said they believed it was important that equal rights be given not just in marriage but in general.

Their sentiment was echoed by Will St Leger, who said: “Irrespective of gays, lesbians etc, I believe all humans should be treated equally.”