Today marks two years since 1.2 million Irish people voted for same sex marriage. Ireland became the first country in the world to legalise gay marriages by public vote. The marriage referendum passed by 62%.
In 2016 a total of 1,056 same sex marriages took place according to CSO figures. Same sex marriages accounted for one in twenty marriages in Ireland that year.
One of the charities that fought for marriage equality, GLEN, was wound up last week following allegations of financial mismanagement and bullying. Monnie Griffith, Executive Director of Belong To believes there are discussions about passing the service on to another organisation.
Belong To is an Irish organisation that supports young people in the LGBT community. They work with young people all over Ireland from the age 14 to 23 offering them peer support groups, in house counselling services with Piata house and run active events to raise awareness of the LGBT community.
Talking about the referendum Monnie said, “Well it was a truly historic win, I mean we changed forever what it means to grow up LGBT in Ireland”.
Yet she added how Ireland still has a long way to when it comes to supporting LGBT needs.
“But that trickledown effect hasn’t really happened yet for young people, the future is bright but today is still quite a scary place, so young people still struggle with coming out to their friends and their families, they fear rejection, isolation and their still experiencing bulling in schools, in their communities and unfortunately even in their homes sometimes where you’re supposed to feel safe”.
Students from Dublin City University LGBTA Society also talked about what the referendum meant to them and if they have noticed a change in the two years.
One student said “We couldn’t have done this without our straight friends and allies and to know hundreds of thousands of people see you as equal means a lot in a society that can be quiet conservative and repressive at times”.
“The referendum really helped my family see that LGBTA+ people are normal people. It allowed them to mellow now to the point that I was able to finally come out to them with no problem”, said another.
“For me the ends did not justify the means and I think we have done irreparable damage to the mental and emotional health of many LGBTQ communities as well as set a dangerous precedent worldwide of asking the majority to grant rights to the minority”.
“It was so important to me because the outcome of that vote determined my place in an Irish society, if a No vote had of won, I would have seriously considered emigrating”.