Monday, January 30, 2006

And today we are thankful for (not)

Eilis O’Hanlon thinks Irish lesbians and gay men should stop moaning – we are lucky we don’t live in Nigeria or Poland. She says there is no discrimination here and no anti-gay movement. Guess she did not read the submissions of the various groups in the appendix of the Oireachtas report. Or read the media reports of the bashings, or the story on gay teachers in Ireland.  Oh and she forgets about section 37 of the Equality Act 2000 and the other anti-gay pieces of legislation passed in the past 2 years by this Oireachtas, put forward by our current government. Am publishing her article in full here…we might think of a few things to tell her between the lot of us.


Irish Dafydds and partners have little to protest about

CREATING AN ISSUE WHERE NONE EXISTS:


Sunday January 29th 2006
Sunday Independent
SPOKESPERSONS for Irish gay rights groups increasingly sound like they're drawing their inspiration from the "only gay in the village" in the BBC comedy show Little Britain.
A committed "homosexualist", Dafydd perpetually wanders around his home village of Llanddewi-Brefi in ever more ludicrous rubber outfits, shouting slogans, determined to take offence at the most innocuous remarks and to find prejudice where none exists, only to find that he is, much to his indignation, entirely accepted and tolerated by his neighbours. His baseless persecution complex is summed up in the classic line: "I couldn't possibly get on a bus, I'm gay." Maybe it's a Celtic Fringe thing.
Irish Dafydds were at it again last week following the much-anticipated publication of the Dail committee report on the Constitution, which advocated keeping the constitutional definition of the "family" as one based on marriage between a man and a woman unchanged.

It was a bit of an anti-climax since most of the committee's findings had been revealed in advance, but the gay rights lobby did their best to sound newly outraged anyway, with the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network in particular saying that the proposals would result in "a huge divide being created in Irish society, between families protected by the Constitution and those with limited or no protection".


The Equality Authority even demanded that transsexuals be given civil partnership rights too, whilst Senator David Norris declared: "We are in a ridiculous situation now that gay couples have more rights in Paisley's Belfast than they do in Bertie's Dublin." That's telling 'em, Senator.

Away from all this entertaining knockabout brouhaha, though, what exactly is the situation for gay couples right now in Ireland? Well, they can't get married or register civil partnerships, that's true, but now that the report has been cleared out of the way it's everybody's intention, including that of the Taoiseach and the Minister for Justice and most of the rest of the Dail, to legislate to allow them to do so in the near future and to extend the legal and financial protections given to married couples to same-sex couples as well.

And even if they didn't want to do it, the EU would eventually make them fall into line anyway.

And that's it. The extent of the quarrel which gay Ireland has with the attitude to civil partnerships among the denizens of straight Ireland is that A: it hasn't happened yet, and B: there might be a few footling legal differences in the way gay couples register their unions as opposed to straight couples.

To which, the obvious answer is A: it will soon enough, and B: so what? Excuse me if I'm missing some huge homophobic discrimination here, but is that really all gay lobbyists in Ireland have to moan about?

It's not even as if there's much by way of opposition to the idea of civil partnerships in Ireland, either politically or in society at large. In laidback Australia, rallies organised against similar proposals for gay union brought thousands on to the streets.

How many would turn up in Dublin to march against civil partnerships? A couple of hundred? The Catholic Church itself may murmur a few protests but they're not going to create that big a fuss.

Bishops in glass houses are learning not to throw so many stones, after all.

Meanwhile, across the world, there are millions of gay people who don't have to imagine prejudice, like bus-boycotting Dafydd and his Irish followers, but who live with it every single day. It's only a few years since the Chinese government removed homosexuality from the official list of mental illnesses, but China's estimated 40 million gay population continue to suffer persecution.

In the Indian province of Uttar Pradesh earlier this month, there were widespread protests against "perversion" when a lesbian couple wed in a local temple, which continued outside the hospital when one of the women attempted suicide.

The Nigerian government has recently taken steps to ban gay marriage, with the information minister calling gay sex "abominable" and President Obasanjo adding for good measure that it is "unBiblical, unnatural and definitely unAfrican".

Poland's President has called Gay Pride marches in his country "sexually obscene". The Estonian parliament recently ruled it out too. And it's unlikely the new Islamic fundamentalist Hamas government in the Palestinian Authority will be rushing to enact gay marriage law any time soon either.

In America, the debate really is hotting up right now too. Only last week, Pennsylvania became the latest to join the list of states which have either banned, or plan to ban, gay partnerships and to define marriage solely as that between a man and a woman when the so-called marriage Protection Amendment Bill came before the local Senate.

Virginia also passed similar laws, which will now go to a referendum in November. Conservative groups, such as the American Family Association, have rallied to the cause. It's a big deal. It swings states electorally. It can decide who gets to the White House.

Where is the equivalent movement against gay rights in Ireland? The fact is, there isn't one. The only opposition is scattered and intermittent. It may be true that there's a level of homophobia buried deep inside traditional Ireland, but it's not stirring, it's not being activated, it's not finding expression in any meaningful way, it's not going to decide any elections, so what exactly are the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network et al fighting against? The possibility of a few crank calls to Liveline or letters from nuts in the local newspaper?

US Democrat Frank Pistella, quoted in the Beaver County News (no sniggering at the back now), says of the campaign against gay unions in Pennsylvania: "I see I tas nothing more than an effort on the part of some people to create an issue where, I n my opinion, one should not exist."

It's the same in Ireland, only here the situation is reversed. Here the non-issue is being peddled and exploited by gay rights activists. They're running round like headless chickens trying to take on opponents who don't exist and pick fisticuffs with people who aren't seeking a fight in the first place. One thing's for sure. Dafydd would be proud.

Eilis O'Hanlon

3 Comments:

At 09:15, Anonymous Damien Mulley said...

Heard GLEN on the radio talking about a great divide. Thought they were really poor in putting their point across. The divide has already existed for a long long time. The report didn't create it, it said "Ah sure, you're fine. Here doggie, play with this chicken bone. Hope you don't choke."

I thought the OPEN group were far better in their interviews on the radio about the refusal to redefine what a family is.

 
At 01:37, Blogger Simon said...

maybe some should say to that indo one she is lucky she is not in nigeria and get back in the kitchen.

I don't think she would apply the same logic to women lib. Ahh double standards you got to love them

 
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