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Discrimination – some new figures to analyse July 15, 2019

Posted by Tomboktu in Equality, LGBT, Travellers.
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Discrimination is alive and kicking in Ireland. Two weeks ago, the Central Statistics Office published the results of a survey it conducted between January and March this year (web version here, 22-page PDF here). People were asked if they had experienced discrimination in the previous two years. Nearly a fifth of those surveyed said they had.

There is lots in the report to chew on, but I will look at two topics.


Not quite the 25th anniversary of decriminalisation of homosexuality June 24, 2018

Posted by Tomboktu in Bits and Pieces, LGBT.

My pedantry genes are causing a fierce itch this morning in reaction to some of the various tweets, to Fianna Fáil’s YouTube film, and to the media getting it wrong.

Today is not the 25th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality. It is the 25th anniversary of the final Dáil debate on the bill that decriminalised homosexuality. But that bill was not signed into law until 7 July 1993, and between the Dáil debate on 24 June and that signing, the Seanad dealt with the Bill (on 29 and 30 June 1993).

To prove I’m not a complete crank, here’s an interesting nugget of history from that day 25 years ago.

The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 1993 proposed two main changes to Irish law: the decriminalisation of male homosexuality and the criminalisation of male prostitution.

Fine Gael’s parliamentary party had decided to propose an amendment to the Bill to set a higher age of consent for gay sex than for hetero-sex, and an amendment was put on the order paper. Some in that party and in the PDs were not happy with that proposal. There was a fear that if it went to a vote, some FF TDs might break the government whip and cause the bill to be amended to set a higher age of consent.

The debate for the Dáil Report and Final Stages on 24 June was guillotined, meaning that if the Dáil had not dealt with all proposed amendments in the time allocated, the debate would be ended on a single motion by the Minister proposing that the amendments which she agreed with be accepted and that the Bill be amended in line with them.

Some of the FG and PD TDs took advantage of the guillotine and of the second main change in law that the Bill introduced, the criminalisation of male prostitution.

The committee stage of a bill deals with detailed amendments, and the first two amendments to be debated dealt with the prostitution elements of the Bill. The second of these concerned the publication of advertisements for prostitution. Fine Gael TDs Alan Shatter, Nora Owen, Austin Deasy (who had sent a party of school children away first), and Mary Flaherty, with assistance from PDs Mary Harney and Michael McDowell and Labour’s Jim Kemmy, kept the debate on prostitution and advertisements for male prostitution going so long that there was no time left to deal with the Fine Gael amendment on the age of consent. In the context of (male!) prostitution, Mary Flaherty mentioned a gift she had recently received of a free aromatherapy massage with the Bach flower remedies: “I hope I am not in for any major surprise.”

A further twist occurred after the vote on the PD amendment on advertising prostitution was held. The formality of the guillotine then kicked in, and the Minister, Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, proposed her catch-all motion to cover the amendments she was accepting, to conclude the Committee, Report and Final stages in one procedure. A vote was called by the independent TD, Johnny Fox, but he could not get a second TD to serve as a teller for the Níl, so a vote was not held and the motion passed.

30 years ago today – the debut of Under Clery’s Clock September 23, 2017

Posted by Tomboktu in Commemoration, LGBT, Music.

30 years ago today, on 23 September 1987 (it was a Wednesday), the Radiators played Under Clery’s Clock for the first time in public. The band had reunited for a one-off gig in the Hawkins nightclub in Dublin to raise funds for AIDS.

Under Clery’s Clock was both of its time and way ahead of it. Written by Phil Chevron (who died on 8 October 2013), it condensed into just 117 words both his isolation growing up gay in Dublin in the 1960s and 1970s and — unlike many other gay songs of the time that set ambitions of coming out or escaping queer-bashing — envisioned a time of true equality: “All I want is to embrace / By the streetlight / Just like other lovers do”.

And it was comfortably Irish — Dublin, even: not only Clery’s (gone) and its famous clock (still there) or the last bus to An Lár (remember them before the electronic signs?), but also Burgh Quay (and the now gone public toilets which had been a cruising spot for gay men).

(PS: A recording was made of the 1987 gig, to help raise additional funds. I’ve not been able to find a copy. It anybody knows where I can borrow one, do pop me an email: cedarlounge.tomboktu@gmail.com)

The personal & the political: In parallel with the histories December 30, 2016

Posted by Tomboktu in Feminism, History, LGBT, Women's rights.

My paternal grandmother was told by her doctor in the 1930s that she would be risking her life if she were to have another child. She approached her parish priest to seek his support on raising this with my grandfather, but was told that if God called her and another child to his side, then she should accept God’s will. At some stage between the end of the 1950s and the early 1990s she told my mother, her daughter-in-law. My mother, in turn, told me of this about a decade ago. My mother was clearly angered at how my grandmother had been treated. Her own life was affected by the ban on contraception, although all her children were born before the Supreme Court ruling on contraception in the Magee case or the formation of the Irish Women’s Liberation Movement.

*    *    *    *

A micro-scene early in the film Pride has the fictional character ‘Bromley’ step out of the Pride parade to watch from the footpath. A woman passes him, and announces her view: ‘disgusting’. And he says ‘Yes’ and nods approvingly. In the succeeding few seconds, George MacKay, the actor who plays ‘Bromley’, conveys the horror that his character feels at betraying what he came to London for that day in 1984, and in a few moment he rejects that betrayal and rejoins the Pride march and the real-life Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners.

Later in the film, his sister and mother accidentally find his cuttings from Capital Gay and photographs from events with Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners, and we are shown, in silhouette and without dialogue, his parents confronting him when he returns home late that night. Although ‘Bromley’ was a fictional character added to the dramatisation of a historical event, a tweet after the film was screened on St Stephen’s night showed that it reflected a real, lived experience: “Thank you #Pride & the character Bromley for explaining to my family why my uni years were concealed, distant & disassociated.”

*    *    *    *

I don’t know if there is a historical school or method that studies the personal experiences of people in social and political changes, particularly of those not in key roles. There might not be; maybe at that stage it ceases being history and becomes biography or sociology. It would also be a more challenging approach: the records are probably less likely to be available. In many cases, the reason will not be that a record was not kept but that there was nothing to record: a silence, the absence of a conversation — even an avoidance of thinking about something.

But those hundreds of thousands of personal experiences and histories are important. A history without them is incomplete. Without survivors of domestic violence telling their stories to other women, there would not have been the campaigns to change police practices, create new laws, or fund emergency shelters, which are the stuff of that history. The narrative of lgb equality is missing something central to its history without the accounts of coming out, of not coming out, of being told, and of different lives in two places, and how those changed over the decades. The stories in the history matter.

35 years ago today July 3, 2016

Posted by Tomboktu in Health, LGBT.

An Irish “don’t ask, don’t tell”, but not tell what, exactly? July 3, 2015

Posted by Tomboktu in Equality, Freedom of speech, Human Rights, LGBT.

We got a chance in the Seanad yesterday to see some real, unscripted discussion on what a piece of law reform should be about, and thanks are due to Senator Averil Power and Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD, the junior minister for equality for naming the issues and following through with the implications of what they thought about them.

After a break of 15 months, Senator Ivana Bacik’s bill to amend the notorious section 37 was back in the Seanad, following a decision by the government on Tuesday to accept it, but with amendments. Section 37 — specifically, subsection 1 — is the clause in the Employment Equality Act 1998 that allows church-run schools, hospitals and medical institutions, and other religious institutions to have certain exemptions from the ban on discrimination in order to protect their ethos.

The INTO and the other teacher unions, along with BeLonG To and GLEN, the main gay advocacy organisations, have been lobbying for many years to have it removed. Articles on religion and on education in the Constitution mean they were never going to get their way without a referendum, so the real question has been: how far can the exemptions be diluted?

Bacik’s approach was to add an exception to each of the exemptions in section 37(1). Her exceptions would apply to schools and medical institutions that are funded by the state. It would have the virtue of bringing the vast bulk of schools and hospitals within the scope of her exceptions while having the vice of not changing the fundamental underlying values in the law — the stronger protection for lgb people (and divorcees, cohabitants, and lone parents) would be an exception to the core piece of law.

Procedurally, the debate picked up yesterday from where it left off last year, on amendment no. 4 to the bill, from Senator Katherine Zappone. Under standing orders, when Ó Ríordáin was responding to that discussion, he should have dealt only with that amendment, but he read into the record his intention to bring forward amendments at the next stage of the process, the report stage debate. (Most of these have nothing to do with section 37.) His main amendment, he said, would introduce a three-part test that schools and medical institutions must meet if they want to take action in response to the conduct of an employee that the institution believes damages the ethos of the institution.

Having breached procedure by bring up matters unrelated to the business at hand in his first speech, Ó Ríordáin then unhelpfully respected procedure by not circulating the text of his amendments, but Power knows this subject inside out having been the first to bring in a bill to reform section 37 in the current Oireachtas — defeated when she pushed it to a vote in 2012 — and she tackled Ó Ríordáin on two of the key flaws in his proposal: that although abstract standards that are to apply to the conduct of teachers, doctors, etc., are to be spelt out, the ‘conduct’ is not defined; and that he appeared to be leaving Bacik’s distinction between state-funded and privately funded institutions untouched.

Three-part legal tests containing standards like “proportionate to the conduct” and “rationally and strictly related to the ethos” are the kind of rule that law lecturers and High Court judges get their kicks from, and are paid handsomely to get those kicks, but they’re not much practical use to a lesbian teacher who is wondering if it’s OK to mention in the staff room but not the classroom that she got engaged at the weekend, and who has no idea what the three-part test means — if she even knows it exists — if a student asks about her engagement ring when she’s driving him and two others to the inter-school debating competition.

Power challenged Ó Ríordáin on whether prohibited conduct under his three-part test could include a teacher responding to a student being bullied because he has two mothers with an admonishment to the bullies that all families are entitled to equal respect, or could it include taking part in a pride parade. She told the Seanad about a gay man in the USA who was legally sacked when he announced he was getting married; if we are not clear that this is not conduct a religious hospital or school can prohibit, we will make a mockery of the vote of the people in the marriage referendum.

Power probably did not intend her remark about the American man to be a pointed one, but it had an additional edge for some of those in the chamber. Zappone’s spouse, Dr Ann-Louise Gilligan, was in the public gallery. A decade ago, when she and Zappone took their High Court case to have their Canadian marriage recognised in Ireland, she feared that her job in St Patrick’s College of Education, in Drumcondra, Dublin — which is under the patronage of the Roman Catholic archbishop of Dublin — because of the scope of section 37(1). Both Dr Gilligan’s spouse — Zappone — and lawyer in that case — Bacik — were in the chamber on the other side of the protective glass.

Senator David Norris chipped in with a brief account of a school gardener in Scotland who was sacked from his job when he was seen at a pride parade, and whose dismissal was found to be lawful when he took a legal challenge against it. Power had tabled a detailed amendment to Bacik’s bill to deal with the gaps she sees in it on this and other matters, and when the debate moved to her amendment, she pushed the minister on the point. He was visibly concerned at the events in other countries that Power and Norris reported, and agreed to look at the meaning of ‘conduct’, effectively accepting that it is a flaw to leave unspecified questions like when and where the conduct occurs and what it is. However, he warned that care would be needed in adding amendments to narrow the scope of the conduct a school or clinic can oppose in order to avoid the amendments getting caught up in the Attorney General’s office for so long that the Bill would not be completed before the next general election.

Power was less successful in arguing for the distinction between state-funded and private schools and medical institutions being removed, though she made the strong point that this is not a distinction we see anywhere else in employment law. This distinction is one that Power raised more than once yesterday, and I expect she will press this point with an amendment at report stage.

But it was on a third item that Power drew out some of the more interesting discussion on the underlying issue in this country. A point was made in passing — I can’t remember by whom, and the debate is not yet published so I cannot look it up — that a “genuine, legitimate and justified occupational requirement” — a term in Bacik’s bill — would obviously allow a school to insist that a religion teacher be of the religion of that school. Power disagreed with that assumption. She didn’t mention it, but she probably has case law on her side. In the 2010 case of McKeever v Knocktemple National School, a Roman Catholic school was found to have discriminated when it withdrew an offer of employment to a teacher who is a member of the Church of Ireland. It does not appear to be have been part of the basis for the ruling, but the Equality Tribunal’s full case report does record that Ms McKeever had told the school she was familiar with and willing to teach the Roman Catholic Alive-O religious programme.

Power said that all primary teachers in Ireland are required to be religion teachers, and therefore allowing the criteria that you must be of the religion of the school to be a religion teacher would amount to a requirement of religious affiliation in order to be a primary teacher of any subject. She also pointed out that at second level, many religion teachers are not simply teachers of religion, but have two subjects of which religion is one.

Power’s challenge to the assumption that a school should be allowed to insist that a religion teacher actually be of that faith appeared to prompt Ó Ríordáin to note that every country in Europe that he has looked at has a section 37(1). The implication that we are not different from the rest of Europe quickly drew the observation that, on the contrary, we are very different because, unlike other countries, the overwhelming majority of our schools are under church control. A section 37(1) in another country has the effect of protecting a minority of schools (those under religious control) and the religious rights of parents. Here, because we have so few schools not under religious patronage, it has the effect of putting the minority at a disadvantage. Bacik, possibly worried where this kind of talk might lead, said that this was a debate for another day.

And so to Tuesday next, when the Seanad will hold its debate on the report stage of Bacik’s bill and discuss and decide on the government’s amendments. The original “don’t ask, don’t tell” was a US policy introduced by Bill Clinton when, for political reasons, he was not able to simply lift the ban on lgb soliders serving in the US Army. The policy paved the way for the ban to be repealed 18 years later under President Obama (although a ban on trans soldiers still applies). We are in a different time and a different jurisdiction, and those two differences pull in opposite directions. Our different time is one in which we can no longer expect a person’s homosexuality to be confined to the private sphere. Six weeks ago, 1,201,607 people voted to change our Constitution to release homosexuality from the confines of the private and allow it into the registry office and the official records of the State on an equal footing with heterosexuality. Our different jurisdiction is that Articles 42 (education) and 44 (religion) of the Constitution prevent the complete removal of any restriction by legislation or regulations.

Furthermore, the lawyers and officials advising Ó Ríordáin do not have any legal precedents that they can look to for guidance on where the balance of rights falls in 2015: section 37(1) has never been invoked in a case by a school, hospital, or employee, and nor has the corresponding EU law been invoked before the Court of Justice. Even if those precedents were available, May 22 changed the context in ways we have yet to understand. On Tuesday, we will learn if the remaining injunctions on teachers, nurses, and doctors to not tell is clear and narrow, or if it is opaquely buried under abstract legalistic three-part tests that will, in years to come, need court cases, and therefore victims going to court, to clarify and limit in light of the new values we have written into our constitution.

You dismantled your right to approve or not and threw away the key May 26, 2015

Posted by Tomboktu in LGBT.

Let me report a side of the outcome of the referendum that I had not expected.

We knew that the debate would have personal costs. An Irish lesbian who is now a law professor in England predicted it last November. And so it came to pass. BeLonG To, the lgbt youth service, had a 10-fold increase in calls for support from lgbt teens during the campaign; a lesbian couple wrote about the stress for their daughter when the poster saying every child needs a mother and father appeared on a lamp-post outside their house.

When the result came in (on a beautifully sunny Saturday), it was clear that our fellow citizens were not merely allowing us to marry whom we choose. They were endorsing our right to be gay or lesbian or bisexual. We are no longer merely tolerated, or even, in an odd way, accepted in that Irish way of “he’s gay, but he’s our gay”. The majority called a halt to even that. They dismantled their right to approve or not and threw away the key.

As @efferal said on twitter:

“It’s like every closet exploded open when we were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off.”

And the photograph on the front page of the New York Times shows just what that means to some of us who, no matter how out we were, knew that being gay was simply not equal. The unarticulated pain of conceded rights — conceded rights to not be criminals, not be discriminated in the pub, of being allowed second-class civil partnerships — had been silently sittng on our shoulders. Until Saturday.

This photograph from Dublin Castle on Saturday and published on the front page of the New York Times shows you what it feels like to have that yoke of approval lifted from our necks.

Declan Flynn remembered today May 24, 2015

Posted by Tomboktu in LGBT.
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When you’re wrong, admit it March 8, 2015

Posted by Tomboktu in Choice, Democracy, Human Rights, Inequality, Irish Politics, LGBT.

Five years ago, the government of the day made an unusual decision: it withdrew an appeal to the Supreme Court, accepted that a new law needed to be introduced, and set in train a process to prepare that legislation. Since then, however, the actions of the various governments have been clumsy, poorly informed, and at times offensively insensitive to the people affected. The specific issue is legal gender recognition for trans people, but the history of how it has been dealt with illustrates a deeply embedded flaw in our governments — both current and previous, and both elected and permanent.

The bill to fill the gap in Irish law was dealt with by the Seanad in February, and last week the Dáil held its first debate on the bill.

Among the amendments in the Seanad were two from the government which only make sense when you realise that the government knows it is wrong but does not want to admit that. What is depressing is that, in the case of one those amendments, trans people will be humiliated and, in the case of the other, strung along for some years, and in both cases this is in order to spare the embarrassment that the policy makers — it is unclear in this case if that is the elected politicians or senior civil servants — would face by doing the right thing.

The purpose of this post is not is not to re-state the problems with the Gender Recognition Bill, but one of them is the subject of one of the government’s amendments. That amendment concerns the process for applying for a gender recognition certificate. Originally, the government intended that obtaining a gender recognition certificate — a legal document — would require a trans person to obtain from a psychiatrist or endocrinologist (but not their GP — that particular exclusion is the focus of another battle to amend the bill, with two professional medical bodies weighing into the debate) a certificate confirming that “based on a medical evaluation of the applicant” the psychiatrist or endocrinologist is satisfied that the applicant fully understands the consequences of his or her decision to live permanently in his or her preferred gender.

Activists object to the pathologisation of trans people and opposed this provision. Having been pushed on the issue during the committee stage debate in the Seanad, the government introduced an amendment at the final (report) stage to delete the phrase “based on a medical evaluation of the applicant” from the bill, while still requiring a psychiatrist or endocrinologist to provide the certificate. In doing that, it was grudgingly admitting that the administrative procedure of obtaining a gender recognition certificate is not a medical matter. But it left in the bill the humiliating, and unnecessary, obligation on trans people to get a medical professional to certify that they are who they say they are.

The second amendment that reveals the government’s incoherent position is a new clause to have the legislation reviewed two years after it comes into operation. The original proposal to do this was made by Senators Averil Power and Katherine Zappone, who recognised early that the government would not budge in any meaningful way on a range of problems with the bill. Their manoeuvre was designed to ensure that these problems with the bill would be revisited. However, the details of the government’s decision to accept a review clause raise questions about how this legislation is seen by the government. Power and Zappone proposed two reviews, the first within two years and a second within five years. Their original proposal was that the reviews would compare the new law against “international best practice in the field of gender recognition and [the bill’s] compliance with national, regional and international equality and human rights standards”. That standard has been stripped out by the government’s proposal, as has the second, medium-term, review.

Despite all that, one thing is clear: the principle that a review is to be undertaken is an odd one for the government to accept if it is so sure that the legislation is as good as it can be or ought to be.

The government’s behaviour on these amendments can probably be explained by problems within the group of those who are making the key decisions, though I do not know if those problems are the result of tensions between different ministers or between ministers and officials, or are the result of ministers not mastering their brief and being in control, and accepting substandard ‘compromise’ proposals from their officials. What is clear is that this problem arises because TENI, the organisation that has been leading the campaign to have the bill improved, has mounted one of the most effective lobbying campaigns, creating from nothing a strong body of support from opposition and backbench government politicians. And the support has come from sources that would have surprised many. A month ago, who would have predicted that Paschal Mooney would propose or that Labhrás Ó Murchú would vote for an amendment to give trans school students a legal right to wear a school uniform appropriate to their preferred gender? (It was defeated.)

The willingness of TDs and senators to speak on a bill that is never going to be a vote winner and the shortcomings of that bill can be traced to differences in a single factor: human contact. When the 2010 government decided to abandon its Supreme Court appeal and to legislate, it set up an advisory group to prepare proposals. The intention was worthy, but the content was fundamentally flawed. The advisory group consisted entirely of representatives of government departments. Not only did it not have the ultimate expert, a trans person or somebody nominated by trans people, it didn’t even have the a psychiatrist or endocrinologist, experts whose role the government sees as central to the operation of the legislation. The result was well-meaning but utterly inexpert officials blundering around preparing proposals on something they misunderstood. Instead of looking to best practice or human rights standards, they looked across the Irish Sea and took out-dated UK legislation as their model.* In contrast, senators and backbench TDs on all sides have said in the debates that they have had the benefit of meeting trans people and of hearing them explain their experiences and why the bill imposes indignities. And they listened.

The mess we now have shows the need for our policy making processes to be changed. Those who will be affected by legislation need to be brought to the table at the start, and to be at it throughout the process. It is unhealthy for our democracy that civil servants can draft proposals with limited understanding. In addition to that over-arching change, at this stage for this particular bill, they and their political masters need to be told to follow Ogden Nash’s advice to new husbands: “When you’re wrong, admit it; When you’re right, shut up.”

*It’s not the first time we have copied the British. In 1983, when the legislation to establish Telecom was being debated, the late John Kelly complained: “Naturally we have to dress it up in a little green jacket, with silver buttons, a dudean in his mouth and a caubean on his head and call it Bord Telecom Éireann.”

A thought on the “Yes Equality” campaign? February 19, 2015

Posted by Tomboktu in Bunreacht na hÉireann, Human Rights, Inequality, LGBT.

Two of the principles that the ‘Yes Equality’ coalition — the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network, and Marriage Equality — have decided they will follow in the campaign on the referendum on marriage equality are (a) they will run a positive campaign and (b) that the referendum is not about children, as the question of children is being dealt with by the Children and Family Relationships Bill (which is to be published today).

It will be a difficult task. Their opponents are using negative campaigning and have insisted that the Children and Family Relationships Bill is at key part of the issue.

And by negative campaigning, I don’t mean merely critiquing the case for marriage equality, but insinuating stereotypes about gay men.

Last weekend’s RTÉ Radio 1 programme Saturday with Claire Byrne dealt entirely with the Children and Family Relationships Bill. It is a long and complicated piece of legislation (the most recent draft that has been published before today is 123 pages long — PDF here) and it covers a myriad of possibilities in how a child might be conceived and raised. One of the participants in Saturday’s programme was Bishop Kevin Doran. During the programme, Claire Byrne asked him to identify the substantive problem he sees with the Bill.

The core of his argument, and the Roman Catholic church’s, is that, when the genetic mother and father are not in a position to raise the child, it is preferable for a child to be brought up by a man and a woman. He picked one — and only one — example to elucidate why he thinks this is important:

Let’s just put it very simply. Take a young woman of 14, 15, 16 years of age growing to maturity and her two parents are two men. They may be the most loving, caring people in the world, but how can they respond as two men to the human, personal and feminine needs of a young woman growing up?

When he finished, the host, Claire Byrne, responded: “OK. There are probably some men who feel quite offended by that if they are bringing up a child, say a female child, on their own”, before turning to another panelist.

His opponents on the programme were three TDs: Alan Shatter, Róisín Shortall and Sean Fleming.  Bishop Doran and the other “anti” panelist on the programme, Ben Conroy of the Iona Institute, were vigorously challenged about a different claim that lone parents are less than ideal when it comes to adoption, in particular by Sean Fleming whose father died when he was in school and whose mother raised him and his siblings alone.

However, none of the TDs challenged the homophobia in the bishop’s comment, none of them challenged the bishop’s assertion that two gay men would unable to respond to their daughter’s ‘feminine needs’ when she reaches puberty. And it is a theme Bishop Doran has returned to this week when he delivered a speech to a meeting in Sligo on Tuesday evening:

It is certainly possible for two men to parent a teenage girl, but few would suggest that is the ideal.

Bishop Doran’s attacks are crying out for a “mini Panti moment”. The next time he is on radio or television, the bishop needs to be asked what exactly is it about two men, and two gay men in particular, in contrast to a widower, that is less than ideal when it comes to raising a daughter? How does he think widowed fathers deal with the onset of menstruation in their daughters? Does he think that two gay men raising daughters are shunned by their sisters, leaving their daughter without an aunt who can take her niece to get her first bra? Indeed, does he think heterosexual fathers with wives ought to ignore their daughter’s ‘feminine needs’?

I do not know if the Yes Equality coalition declined an invitation to take part in Saturday’s programme or were not invited, but they have been notably silent this week while the suitability of two gay men to be parents has been attacked in the debate about the Bill that will, among a myriad of other things, make that possible for the first time in Ireland. However, the explicit homophobia in the broader debate needs to be challenged, even if that means modifying a commitment to be positive and an intention to focus only on the referendum. However much GLEN, Marriage Equality and the ICCL may not like it, the question of children is now part of the debate. We saw on Saturday that we cannot depend on straight allies to expose the homophobia, but if it is left unchallenged, it will damage the Yes campaign.

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