Gay Ireland and Northern Ireland News and Reports 2011

1 Irish civil partnerships come into law 1/11

2 Ireland recognises foreign gay marriage and partnerships 1/11

3 Gay couple are first to be recognised as civil partners in Ireland 1/11

4 Clerics furious at Londonderry gay sauna 2/11

5 Most Irish people support gay marriage, poll says 2/11

6 Ireland elects first openly gay TD 2/11

7 Northern Ireland school is first to form gay-straight alliance 3/11

8 Irish youth services group launches video to target anti-gay bullying 3/11

9 First Irish public civil partnerships take place 4/11

10 Report highlights problems of coming out in rural Ireland 4/11

11 "The Personal Development Courses" 5/11

12 Senior Church of Ireland minister announces civil partnership 9/11

13 Homophobic bullying ‘rife’ in Northern Ireland schools 10/11

4 January 2011 – PinkNews

Irish civil partnerships come into law

by Jessica Geen
Ireland’s civil partnership law came into force at the weekend, although gay couples must wait until early April to hold their ceremonies. The law was welcomed by the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network as a “new dawn” for gay and lesbian couples but other groups said it was not good enough. LGBT Noise said that only marriage would offer gay couples real legal equality, as civil partnerships do not offer gay parents enough protection. The group said children of gay parents would lack legal recognition and non-biological parents would not have the right to make educational and medical decisions for their children.

LGBT Noise spokesman Max Krzyzanowski told the Irish Times: “Parents will be taxed as a couple but denied their parental rights as a couple. “Noise believes that even if partnership offered all the benefits of marriage it would still be discrimination, as a separate system for gay people cannot be called equality.”

Church group Changing Attitude Ireland welcomed the development but said civil partnerships were “second class” and called on new leadership to make changes. Canon Charles Kenny, secretary of Changing Attitude Ireland, said: “We now call on the new government shortly to be elected to remedy its defects, namely the failure to make provision for the guardianship of children and their adoption by same sex couples.”

The law came into action on Saturday January 1st after Irish justice minister Dermot Ahern signed a commencement order last month. As is the case with straight couples who wish to marry, gay couples who want a civil partnership have to give three months’ notice. However, it is expected that some ceremonies will take place before April, for couples where one partner is terminally ill. Gay couples can begin registering their intent to have a civil partnership today, when registry offices open after the Christmas break.

13 January 2011 – PinkNews

Ireland recognises foreign gay marriage and partnerships

by Jessica Geen
Gay couples living in Ireland who have married or had a civil partnership abroad will be recognised as civil partners from today. The change is part of Ireland’s new civil partnership laws, which give gay couples almost all the rights of marriage. However, couples who wed in countries where gay marriage is legal will find their unions downgraded to civil partnerships. And some unions, such as French PACS, will not be recognised because they are deemed not to offer as many rights as Irish marriages or civil partnerships.

Unions from 27 countries or states will be recognised; 17 of which currently give gay couples the right to marry. Couples will be automatically considered as civil partners and will not need to register.

Brian Sheehan of the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network said: “Same-sex couples who have already celebrated their relationships and made formal commitments to each other by having a civil marriage or civil partnership in another country will today have those relationships recognised in Ireland. This recognition will provide significant protections for these couples.”

The first Irish civil partnership ceremonies will take place in early April.

17 January 2011 – PinkNews

Gay couple are first to be recognised as civil partners in Ireland

by Staff Writer
A gay couple are celebrating after becoming the first recognised civil partners in Ireland. Glenn Cunningham and Adriano Vilar had a civil partnership in Northern Ireland last year but are now recognised as a couple in Ireland due to new laws. They told the Irish Times that by chance, they went to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service offices last Thursday to discuss Brazilian national Mr Vilar’s residency status.

Mr Cunningham said: “At first the officials didn’t know what to do, they’d never dealt with a legally binding civil partnership involving a gay couple. Eventually, the officials came back and said: ‘Congratulations – you’re the first couple in Ireland to be recognised as civil partners’. We were shocked – we couldn’t believe it!”

Mr Vilar added: “My reaction was like, ‘Wow-wee, yahoo! Really?’ I’ve always felt quite insecure – only living here on a student visa. We went off and got a bottle of champagne to celebrate.”

The couple both work at Argos and the change means that Mr Vilar will be able to work full-time and find a job suited to his experience as a store manager. Ireland’s new civil partnership laws allow gay couples who have had marriages or civil unions in 27 other countries to be recognised as civil partners. In April, gay couples who have not had a ceremony elsewhere will be able to start having civil partnership ceremonies.

February 16th, 2011 – PinkNews

Clerics furious at Londonderry gay sauna

by Staff Writer
Protestant ministers in Londonderry are furious over a newly-opened gay sauna in the city. The Cage, on John Street, opened last week, although it does not yet have planning permission. As well as a sauna, it has a steam room, a cinema and private rooms. At least two Protestant ministers say they will fight the planning permission application, the Belfast Telegraph reports. The Reverend Ian Brown from the Free Presbyterian Church in the Waterside, called the sauna a “sordid little hovel” and said he was “repulsed” by the “nefarious and shameful development”.

Mark Bradford, a minister with the Bethnal Baptist Church in Derry, said it was a “sordid, sinful carbuncle on the face of Derry”. He added that visitors were involved in “killer behaviour”.

The owner of the The Cage, Barry McGonigle, said it made financial business sense to set up in London Derry. “While I wouldn’t exactly welcome protests, I will weather the storm,” he added.

24 February 2011 – PinkNews

Most Irish people support gay marriage, poll says

by Staff Writer
A survey of Irish adults says that the majority – 61 per cent – support marriage equality for gay couples. Just 27 per cent of voters are opposed to the idea of gay marriage, the Irish Independent/Millward Brown Lansdowne research found. As with most polls on gay marriage, younger people and women were most in favour of the change.
Twelve per cent of respondents said they did not know.

Yesterday, Fine Gael politician Lucinda Creighton complained she had received hate mail after stating her opposition to gay marriage. The party spokeswoman for equality issues said on Twitter last week that “marriage is primarily about children, [the] main purpose being to propagate [and] create”. Angry Twitter and Facebook users hit back, although Ms Creighton claimed there was an “orchestrated campaign” against her.

This month, two male couples had Ireland’s first civil partnerships. The first ceremonies were not scheduled until April 1st but it is understood that one partner in each couple was terminally ill. As in Britain, gay rights activists are pushing for full marriage equality.

28 February 2011 – PinkNews

Ireland elects first openly gay TD

by Staff Writer,
Ireland has elected its first openly gay Teachta Dála, the Irish equivalent of an MP. Dominic Hannigan, a Labour politician, was one of three TDs elected to the seat of Meath East this weekend. The former civil engineer was elected as a Seanad Éireann senator on the Industrial and Commercial panel in 2007.

In 2006, while a county councillor, he marched with his partner in the Dublin Pride march. Ireland has had openly gay senators in the past and may have its first gay president this year, if polls prove correct. Senator David Norris, 66, is an independent senator known for his campaigning on gay rights. Recent polls have put him at the front of the race to succeed current president Mary MacAleese in the autumn.

28 March 2011 – PinkNews

Northern Ireland school is first to form gay-straight alliance

by Jessica Geen
A school in Northern Ireland is the first in the country to form a student gay-straight alliance. Teachers at Shimna Integrated College in Newcastle, County Down, hope the initiative will help tackle anti-gay bullying. Gay-straight alliances are popular in US high schools and are designed to welcome all students, regardless of sexuality.

Kevin Lambe, principal at Shimna Integrated College, told the BBC that while other bullying had mostly disappeared, homophobic bullying remains common. He said: “Most bullying, most racism has been publicly gotten rid of. Words that you are called because of your religion, because of your skin colour, most of that has disappeared. But homophobic bullying I’m sorry to say is quite common. As the form of bullying which most induces young people to harm themselves or even kill themselves, surely we can’t turn away from that and say ‘oh that’s a delicate type of bullying, we can’t really deal with that’.”

Mr Lambe added that no parents had complained about the alliance. “I haven’t had a single parent say a negative word about it,” he said. “I’ve had positive words about it, but no negativity at all.” He said: “Let’s be honest, homophobic bullying happens openly, therefore I really believe you have to react to it and deal with it openly.”

The school has been praised by Northern Ireland LGBT group Rainbow Project. Education equality officer Gavin Boyd said: “Homophobic bullying is a serious and prevalent problem across schools in Northern Ireland. It is not frequently discussed in schools and many teachers are unsure of how or even if they should intervene when they witness homophobic bullying.” He added: “There are young people, teachers and principals in schools all over Northern Ireland who want to make sure that their school is a safe and welcoming place for everyone, but perhaps they don’t know how to achieve this or if they will have support in tackling homophobic bullying.”

4 April 2011 – Fridae

Irish youth services group launches video to target anti-gay bullying

by News Editor
BeLonG To Youth Services in Ireland has launched a new campaign, Stand Up! LGBT Awareness Week! to provide an annual focus for promoting friendship amongst young people as a way to combat homophobic bullying.

BeLonG To Youth Services in Ireland has launched a new advocacy campaign targeting anti-gay bullying The Stand Up! LGBT Awareness Weeks will be held April 4-15 in schools and youth services throughout Ireland. The campaign promotes positive awareness of LGBT young people, tackling homophobia and homophobic bullying, and building allies among young people and youth workers.

During Stand Up! Week youth workers and teachers will offer all young people who participate in their centre/school the opportunity to participate in fun and educational activities. These will increase awareness, build supportive links among young people and reduce the incidence of bullying and name-calling. The Educational Pack for Stand Up! Week will include a poster, dvd and actitivitys for each youth centre and school and stickers for young people.

5 April 2011 – PinkNews

First Irish public civil partnerships take place

by Jessica Geen
Ireland’s first public civil partnership ceremonies were due to take place this afternoon. The law came into force on January 1st, although the vast majority of couples were required to give three months notice of their intent to tie the knot. Six couples who obtained a special court exemption have had civil partnerships since February 7th. The couples, who all requested privacy, will have been granted exemptions on compassionate grounds, for example, when one partner is terminally ill.
Today, Dublin couple Hugh Walsh and Barry Dignam will be the first to have a civil partnership without a court exemption. Another couple is expected to follow them.

Kieran Rose, of the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network said: “The first public civil partnership ceremonies in Ireland mark another great milestone for Ireland and for lesbian and gay people. “It is a great day for the two couples, their families and friends, and we wish them much luck and happiness.” He added: “Lesbian and gay couples have been waiting for years to have their relationships recognised and protected by the State. For the two couples today and all those who will enter civil partnerships over the coming months, this is a very significant advance.”

Another gay group, LGBT Noise, welcomed the first civil partnership but said that it was not equal to marriage. LGBT Noise organiser Max Krzyzanowski said: “I’m very happy for Mr Dignam and Mr Walsh. But this is not equality. Civil partnership legislation perpetuates the idea that gay relationships are not as valid as straight ones. “As equal citizens and residents of Ireland, the LGBT community demand full access to all the rights and protections of marriage; civil partnership is simply not good enough.”

April 26, 2011 – Leinster Leader

Report highlights problems of coming out in rural Ireland

Young rural lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered people are seven times more likely to commit suicide and 14 times more likely to inflict self harm than their straight counterparts. This is according to a new study titled “Coming Out – LGBT Young People: Challenges and support needs in rural Ireland”, which was launched in the Derby House Hotel, Kildare town last Wednesday April 20. The study had a strong local influence as it was commissioned by Kildare Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Group (LBGT).

Author of the report, Bernadette Smyth pointed out the issues faced in rural areas, like Kildare, were different to those faced in urban areas. She said young LGBT people can experience mental health issues, depression, victimisation, discrimination, alcohol abuse, self harm and suicide. She noted the fear of coming out was a huge issue with many young people who were forced to move from their rural homes to larger towns and cities in order to be able to express themselves fully. The report found that the most common age that people discovered their sexual orientation was 12 but some children realised it at as young an age as eight. However, the most common age for coming out was 17 for males, and 18 for females with many young people keeping their sexual identity hidden for up to six years.

“It’s especially hard in rural areas where everyone knows everyone,” she explained. “In the country or outside of the cities and towns, one person comes out to another person and then everyone knows. You are coming out to the entire community. For young people who are very vunerable at that age, they may feel they have to give up everything.”

One respondent told of how his sister was beaten up on her way home from school because he came out and told people about his sexuality. The study noted that young LBGT people were two to five times more likely to use drugs while 65% had some experience of drugs, compared to just 25% in the general youth population. She said the transgender group of people were often more vulnerable.

Ms Smyth pointed out that being gay does not cause problems for young people, but its society’s response and attitude to it that is the issue. The report acknowledges the need for LGBT drop in centres particularly in rural areas, youth groups working in conjunction with schools, workshops and supports for parents of LGTB young people, community forums and the provision of transport to drop in centres. Ms Smyth said there was an incredible resilience and ability to thrive among young LGBT people in the face of adversity. She praised Belong To – an LGBT group based in Dublin which gives support to other LGBT groups across the country as well as running its own facilities.

Chris Pender, Kildare LGBT chairperson said the local group was set up in 2005 but it disbanded due to people going off to college and other events. It was revamped in early 2009. He thanked the agencies who facilitated the report which included Kildare VEC, Kildare Youth Services, County Kildare Leadership Partnership and the HSE. “We are hoping to get a group set up here at the end of June for 12 to 18 year olds. As well as being chairman of Kildare LGBT, I am also chairperson of Sunrise LGBT, which is for adults and that meets regularly in Newbridge for now. People come from right across Kildare. Kildare LGBT also run awareness training, which we will be doing again,” he said.

A LGBT Diversity seminar on culture and community will take place on May 28 for the South West region including Kildare and West Wicklow at the Derby House Hotel. Anyone interested in learning more about Kildare LGBT can call 085 7548257.

29 April, 2011 – MSM Global Forum

The Gay Men’s Health service (GMHS) and Outhouse are pleased to announce "The Personal Development Courses

The Gay Men’s Health service (GMHS) and Outhouse are pleased to announce the re-introduction of the Personal Development Courses (PDC) from May 2011.

The PDC is for gay and bisexual men and is free of charge. It is series 6 of weekly workshops held on Tuesday evenings at Outhouse.

The Aim Of The Course Is:

• To help you become more aware of yourself.
• To improve self esteem and assertiveness.
• To meet new people and expand your social network.
• To learn practical ways of dealing with day to day situations.
• Personal development is all about making positive changes in your life and improving your health and well-being.
• It can be both fun and challenging and helps you learn coping skills for everyday situations.

Take the next step, contact us, to find out more or to book your place. T: 01 873 4932 E:

View this article’s attachment here

5 September 2011 – PinkNews

Senior Church of Ireland minister announces civil partnership

by Jessica Geen
A senior minister in the Church of Ireland has announced he is in a civil partnership. Rev Tom Gordon Dean of Leighlin Cathedral, Co Carlow, said he had the ceremony in July with his partner of more than 20 years. According to the Irish Times, this is thought to be the first civil partnership for a serving Church of Ireland minister.

There are a number of Church of England clergy in civil partnerships, but the issue remains controversial. Last month, a minister at a Scottish church announced she was planning to have a civil partnership. One church elder has already resigned over Reverend Lynn Brady’s announcement and there have been calls for her to resign.

12 October 2011 – PinkNews

Homophobic bullying ‘rife’ in Northern Ireland schools

by Jessica Geen
Anti-gay bullying is a serious problem in Northern Ireland schools, a new report says. The Rainbow Project report, Left out of the Equation, says gay, lesbian and bisexual pupils suffer severe inequality. Problems include bullying, teachers failing to tackle homophobic abuse, poor sexual health information and schools’ failure to teach about stable and fulfilling relationships.

Young LGB people are left to “suffer in silence” because they fear coming out, the charity says. The report says: “LGB young people are one of the most invisible, isolated and vulnerable groups in our society. Homophobic bullying is rife in schools across Northern Ireland and it continues, unchallenged, because school staff lack the capacity, confidence or will to tackle it.

“Many LGB young people experience severe emotional, verbal and physical abuse while they are at school and yet continue to suffer in silence because they do not want to ‘out’ themselves, because they believe that the school would look unfavourably upon them, or because they do not believe that the school will take any appropriate action. It adds: “Although many young LGB people are coming out at an earlier age, many spend their time in school trying to conceal their sexual orientation from their parents, teachers, peers and even themselves.”

Rainbow Project education equality officer Gavin Boyd said: “This report shows that when it comes to education, young people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual are left out of the equation. “They get severely bullied but frequently don’t tell anyone because they don’t believe their school will do anything about it. They hear homophobic slurs every day but teachers don’t intervene. They aren’t taught that they can have stable and fulfilling relationships. They aren’t taught how to gauge risk and protect themselves from mental and sexual ill-health. They are simply expected to suffer in silence.” He added: “The education structures of Northern Ireland ensure that boards of governors can neglect their legal obligations due to the lack of enforcement and accountability mechanisms. Boards of governors are failing to safeguard and promote the welfare of their LGB pupils, contrary to their legal obligations.”