NUIG Diversity & Equality Workshop – Thursday 9th March 2017 (contributed by Evan Blake).
On March 9th 2017, the Network Chair Joel and committee member Evan took a 9.25 a.m. train out of Heuston to NUI Galway, for a workshop entitled ‘Our Journey So Far’. After reaching out to NUI Galway during the Summer of 2016 in relation to understanding what LGBT Staff provisions exist, we briefly met with the newly appointed Vice-President for Equality & Diversity Prof. Anne Scott. At the time, there was no Staff LGBT Network presence on campus and she was keen to learn about our experience. After giving her insight into our progress from late ‘15 until mid-‘16, she asked if we would be willing to make the journey to NUI Galway when the time was right. Thus, today we had a very productive session with NUI Galway’s Diversity & Equality Office, University staff along with representatives from the local community organisation AMACH, and we very much look forward to getting progress reports, as they begin their journey towards the creation of a Staff LGBT Network.
IBEC Ally event Eir – Wednesday 22nd February 2017 (contributed by Evan Blake).
On Feb 22nd 2017 the Network Chair Joel, Equality Officer Aoife and committee member Evan made the journey to eir’s Dublin based HQ, not far from Heuston Station for an IBEC and GLEN event on Straight Ally. We were welcomed by Eavann Murphy, CCO eir business and the ESB, Google, Sodexo & State Street shared their stories. Workshops were facilitated and focused on exploring various elements around developing Straight Ally participation within staff LGBT Networks through smaller breakout workshop sessions. In each session, companies across the spectrum of LGBT Staff service provision, participated in discussions around who is an Ally, the value of Straight Allys and how to engage Straight Allys in our different Networks.
Queer History Talk – Wednesday 22nd February 2017 (contributed by Tom Brace).
This event was organised by Q Soc. The Trinity LGBT Society. The talk was given by Ms. Laura Finlay: the researcher of the LGBT communities in Ireland.
The focus of the talk was on the climatic change which has taken place in Ireland in recent years in the area of LGBT rights. Up to the closing years of the 20th. century Ireland was a hostile place for LGBT people. Homosexuality was a criminal offence and LGBT people were ostracised in Irish society. Foremost in homophobia were the churches; the Catholic church particularly, but not exclusively, so. The Protestant churches and the Jewish community were also homophobic. State institutions such as the Gardai and the Defence Forces were hostile places for LGBT people.
International events such as the Stonewall riots in New York in June 1969 when members of the LGBT community demonstrated against a police raid on the gay-friendly Stonewall Inn did have an impact in Ireland but progress towards LGBT rights was slow and actively opposed by all the major institutions of the state.
Significant events that led to a gradual change in public attitude included the clerical child sex-abuse scandals in the Catholic Church which significantly weakened that church’s reputation and authority. One major event that altered public perception was the overthrowing of the anti-homosexuality law in 1988 following a fourteen-year campaign by Trinity lecturer David Norris which finally ended in victory when he took his case to the European Court of Human Rights. Norris was elected as a TCD Senator in 1987 becoming the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in Ireland. He was also the first openly gay person to run for President of Ireland in the election of 2011.
Progress towards gay liberation in Ireland has been significant by any standard with the Irish electorate voting to approve Same Sex Marriage by a 62% majority in the May 2015 referendum. Recently in October 2016 in launching a recruiting campaign the Defence Forces stressed that LGBT people were welcome to join.
While the underlying causes need further examination, there has been considerable progress in the area of LGBT rights in Ireland.