In what has been deemed a first for Ireland’s oldest law school, a debate took place in King’s Inns in Dublin (founded 1541) on equality between gay and straight people.
The motion that "This house supports marriage equality in the upcoming referendum" was proposed by Senators David Norris and Ivana Bacik, and opposed by Dr John Murray of the Iona Institute and senior counsel Patrick Treacy. It was chaired by RTÉ presenter Audrey Carville.
The event, which was sold out well in advance, was organised by the King’s Inns Gay, Lesbian, Straight Alliance (KGLSA) which was set up in 2014 with the aim of discussing relevant issues and promoting equality among gay and straight people.
The alliance has more than 50 members and has already addressed issues such as section 37.1 of the Employment Equality Act which allows religious-run institutions discriminate against gay people.
KGLSA chair Bryan Lucey said that "once this debate is over then the real work starts".
“It’s important we get as many voices as possible out there showing the wide variety of people supporting marriage equality,” he said. “Equality matters to all and the referendum is so important we at the KGLSA will do everything in our power to get a Yes vote in May.”
Vice-chair Sarah Kearney said that "this is the first time in the 500 years of the King's Inns we've had a society that promotes equality among gay and straight people". It was also, she said, "a first for the King's Inns. The KGLSA has been well-supported by our dean and we are thrilled with this; even more so with the enormous interest from the public."
KGLSA public relations officer Stephanie O’Connell said that “as a straight person I believe that it is fundamental to strive for equal rights for all our citizens. When I discovered that gay people are still marginalised within society over certain rights such as marriage, I felt it was crucial that I voice my support for people who are gay.”