Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Fed up, pissed off, moving on?

In the 1980’s and even the early 1990’s many lesbians and gay men left Ireland. Oppression, stigma, and the appalling economic conditions were amongst the reasons people took the boat or the plane to anywhere but here. Those who were diagnosed as being HIV positive moved to the UK mainly in order to seek better care, respect and anonymity at the height of the AIDS pandemic and panic (government advertisements warned tourists not to bring AIDs home from their holidays – ‘cos of course no one had sex here or Gay sex.  You needed a prescription for a condom and in latter years find a chemist who would sell them to you. AIDS was a threat from abroad)

Migration amongst lesbians and gay men is well known, people leave the small town in search of the big lights, the gay bars and the end of looking over ones shoulder. Moving to London or New York or other queer metropolis brought a chance to explore ones identity, to leave behind the church, the squinting windows and the homophobia.

Today I met a friend for coffee, J is in his early 30’s, not politically active, a young person who’s life has been based in Dublin and who has enjoyed the freedoms that have come about in a modern Ireland. He does not know what it was like to be criminalised and indeed knows little about HIV and AIDS beyond the practise of safer sex.  He does not know anyone who is HIV+. He is out at work, out to his family and in a relationship for 3 years sharing a house with his partner, both of them in good jobs with great friends and family support.

J was very down today. And he was angry. And he was thinking of packing his bags and heading for anywhere but here.  Whilst many of us did not believe that the All Party Committee on the Constitution report on the Family was going to given same sex couples much hope, we did not think that it would be so explicitly discriminatory either. I think most lesbians and gay men are used to being ignored, and used to seeing sexual orientation included in policy (even if that policy really means nothing and has no teeth). But it was very clear today that this committee were haunted by queers. The majority would love to have ignored us. First they don’t recommend that the constitutional protection on the family based on marriage be changed to be more inclusive. And then they recommend that heterosexual couples who cohabit have a presumed protection just by living together (or possibly register) whilst same sex couples would have to register.  Again they fail to see same sex unions as anything more than property owning, pension paying, nominatory facades. They don’t see our relationships as ones to be nurtured, supported and cherished for the love that exists. It’s merely a matter of money, contracts and shutting some of us up. Those of use with children or who wish to have children are ignored and the rights of our children are disregarded.  

It could be years before any protection of same sex relationships is introduced. The Equality Authority and Equality Commission of Northern Ireland yesterday published a report citing the gulf that now exists in the equal treatment of lesbian and gay couples north and south of the border. Bertie and company don’t get same sex relationships, they don’t understand anything about lesbian and gay identity, they just know that they don’t want to give us an inch or equality. The crumbs they offer we should be grateful for.

Economics are not the only reason to keep people at home and happy.  Better education standards, the impact of globalisation increased expectations and now the pull of equality and respect will change the dynamics of the push and pull factors that effect lesbian and gay migration.

And who’d blame J for giving up and going elsewhere. He is lucky to have the where-with- all to do so, and he knows that. But he also knows that he wants to have respect for his relationship, respect that he does not see coming from any political party including the traditional supporters of lgbt rights.

I was pissed off enough myself today and could offer him no succour, sorry J, maybe tomorrow? And we need to tell people we are pissed off too.

5 Comments:

At 01:03, Blogger Cian said...

First they don’t recommend that the constitutional protection on the family based on marriage be changed to be more inclusive. And then they recommend that heterosexual couples who cohabit have a presumed protection just by living together (or possibly register) whilst same sex couples would have to register.

and then wheeled out the absolutely sickening ronan Mullen to defend such a position. My heart is with all of the gay community today. There is no longer any room in a society as open as ours is becoming for prejudice of this fashion.
2 loving parents= family.
Simple.
Work with it TDs.
RR

 
At 01:40, Anonymous morgan said...

Great post, Suzy.

The support of FG and the PDs for the FF position is also painful.

 
At 03:03, Blogger Mark Dowling said...

Come to Toronto - we do Patrick's Day, Pride Day and fully unskimmed, fully sweetened marriage here and we hope not enough Tories got elected last night to even huff and puff at it. Was sickened reading the RTE article this evening. They couldn't even copy the ersatz union from the UK properly.

 
At 23:40, Anonymous Jay said...

Ah Suzy that summed up yesterday, not sure how I feel today. Fuck them for making me and you and others worry at all. With what you and others did back then I am able to be me. I want to continue to do that. You should put the fingers to the keyboard more often dear and write other places!

And Toronto Mark? Is it not a wee bit cold there in the winter? Any good looking mounties?

 
At 14:39, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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