Higgins calls on public to ‘address the lethargy’ affecting LGBTQI+ community

President warns community still regularly faces ‘homophobic comments and slurs’

President Michael D Higgins has called on the Irish people to “address the lethargy” which is preventing members of Ireland’s LGBTQI+ community from “living the fullest expression of themselves”.

Mr Higgins warned on Saturday that, despite the legalisation of same sex marriage nearly seven years ago, members of Ireland’s gay community still regularly face “homophobic comments and slurs” and feel uncomfortable “holding the hand of their partner, of their husband or wife”, in public.

“This suggests an environment which somehow allows that while under the law someone’s sexuality will be tolerated, its expression must not be allowed,” the president said in a statement on Saturday. “We must do better.”

Mr Higgins’ comments came following the murders of Aidan Moffit (41) and Michael Snee (58) who were killed in their homes in Sligo town in separate violent attacks last week. Yousef Palani (22) of Markievicz Heights in Sligo was charged on Thursday with murdering the two men.


Hundreds of people have gathered at vigils in Sligo, Dublin, Belfast and other counties in recent days to pay tribute to Mr Moffit and Mr Snee.

The President called on the Irish public to ask ourselves whether this country is truly building “an equal space for members of the LGBTQI+ community”.

The overwhelming public support for same sex marriage rights in the 2015 referendum was an "important and significant milestone and a clear statement by the people of Ireland that all are entitled to equal legal recognition of their relationships, no matter what their sexual orientation is," he said.

“Beyond the recent horrific events lies perhaps a challenge to address the lethargy which is impeding the fullest expression of themselves as citizens by members of the LGBTQI+ community in Irish society,” said the President.

“As we go forward, it is surely necessary to address the roots of the assumptions that are sustaining these exclusions and such authoritarian actions in our communities and to consider what individual and collective actions we can take to provide a freer, diverse and inclusive space in our communities built on respect for equality and difference, not just in our laws but in our words and actions.

“In doing so, we will all benefit from the delivery of such full participation of our shared lives by all our citizens.”

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak is an Irish Times reporter and cohost of the In the News podcast