An LGBTQ+ panel put on in a joint effort by the Politics Society and Q-Soc discussed both the future and the past of the LGBT rights movement in Ireland on Tuesday evening. The general mood of the night was one of acknowledging the impressive progress made in Ireland while continuing to push for progress.
The panel included Adam Long from the National LGBT Federation, Dr Fergus Ryan, a graduate of Trinity and now a senior lecturer of Law at Maynooth University, Shubhangi Karmakar, the Graduate Student Union Treasurer and founder of Repealist, and Francis Timmer the South Dublin County Council representative for Clondalkin.
All of the panelists support hate crime legislation in Ireland, both Coco’s Law and something more general against all hate crimes. They highlighted that one in three LGBTQ+ people conceal their identity in the workplace and that gay jokes and attacks on transgender people still take place across the country. The panelists made it clear that while full legal equality is certainly much closer than before, acceptance has yet to be fully incorporated into the culture.
The National LGBT Federation is lobbying for several pieces of legislation, including outlawing gay conversion therapy. They spoke about Burning Issues 2, a report published by the Federation in 2016 about problems still facing the LGBTQ+ community. Adam Long said: “It destroys the message that the gays have been solved, that we can tick that box and move on.”
Fact-based, non-religious sexual education was another talking point for the panelists, especially in relation to safe-sex for LGBTQ+ youth, understanding, and accepting different identities. Shubhangi Karmakar called for open access and open interpretation within the education system for youth seeking to understand their gender and sexual identities. She also called for a change in the healthcare system, including increased funding, more LGBTQ+ friendly wording, and better medical training for professionals.
Dr Fergus Ryan noted gaps in the legal system, as well as the modeling of same-sex marriage and family law after a specific heterosexual marriage and family model. He spoke of strong legal equality, but high socio-economic vulnerability for the LGBTQ+ community, especially LGBT youth and transgender individuals.
Francis Timmons spoke of separation of Church and State, the pride of being Irish when marriage equality was passed in 2015, and of an “Ireland of equals”. He supports Coco’s Law, as well as strong hate crime legislation, and would like to see more bisexual and transgender people in all levels of government. In his final remarks, in a reference to Oscar Wilde, Timmons said: “It took a long time but we are now equal, homosexual love can now be spoken of.”
The panelists emphasized the need to make sure that the LGBTQ+ community recognizes the other minority groups within the community including disabled people, people of colour and others. “Be kinder to ourselves as a community, and kinder to those around us, especially when they don’t understand. Progress is never a steady stream, progress is a set of political breaks,” said Shubhangi Karmakar.