Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Irish Vote for LGBT Equality Continues Rippling Out to Other Nations: Chris Morley's Update

Chris Morley left two wonderful reports (and here) in the comments section of this blog today, about the ripple effect (already) of the Irish vote last weekend. To make sure that more readers have a chance to see these reports, I'm lifting them from the combox and posting them as a posting as this work day ends: Chris writes,

Aside from rainbows over Dublin, there are Irish waves and ripples to be seen rolling across the world.

In Ireland an Employment Anti-Discrimination Bill is to follow in the wake of marriage equality. The Irish Times reports that legislation to prevent schools and hospitals discriminating against current or future employees because of their sexuality will be in place by summer. Minister of State for Equality Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said he is working hard to ensure the Employment Equality Act is amended by September, when the new school term starts. 

The Act currently allows religious-run schools and hospitals to discriminate against employees or prospective employees whose sexuality or family status is not perceived as conforming with the religious ethos of the institution. The new legislation would offer protections to staff of religious-run medical and educational institutions who are members of the LGBT community or those who are single parents. At the same time, the Bill would allow institutions to maintain their religious ethos. The amendment is to be drafted in the Department of Justice and Mr Ó Ríordáin hopes to have it passed through the Dáil and Seanad by the end of the year. 

Ireland's national broadcaster RTÉ News reports that the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano has said that Ireland’s passing of the same-sex marriage referendum constitutes a "defeat" that highlights a gap between the church and modern society.

While neither the Pope nor the Vatican has reacted officially to the referendum result, the newspaper reported of "a challenge for the whole Church," and of "the distance, in some areas, between society and the Church." It said: "The margin between the 'yes' and the 'no' votes was too large not to be accepted as a defeat. It was the result of high voter turnout, notably among young people." Cardinal Georges Cottier, a noted Church theologian, was cited by the Osservatore Romano as saying it was impossible to understand the referendum result "without taking into account the paedophilia scandal which has rocked the Irish Church."

The Italian Prime Minister tells La Repubblica, “Civil unions cannot be delayed any longer." Other senior Italian political figures also commented on the result, with Robert Speranza, the leader of Mr Renzi’s Democratic Party, saying: "Now it is Italy's turn." "The moment has arrived, finally, to approve this before the summer's end," added Democratic Senator Andrea Marcucci."Ireland is giving us a lesson in civility," said gay Italian politician Nichi Vendola, president of the Apulia region since 2005. 

In Australia the opposition Labor Party leader Bill Shorten has given formal notice he will move a bill to legalize same-sex marriage at the next sitting of the House of Representatives on Monday just days after more members of the conservative wing of his party announced they now would vote in favor of marriage equality.

Shorten, leader of the Australian Labor Party, put his intention in writing earlier today, giving notice to the Parliament that he will table such a bill when the House of Representatives meets on Monday. "I give notice that, at the next sitting I will present a bill for an Act to amend the Marriage Act 1961 to establish marriage equality, and for related purposes," a document signed by Shorten and seconded by deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek reads.

A statement posted to Facebook appeared to be calling out the Liberal / National Coalition leader and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott for his continued reluctance to allow his MPs to vote with their consciences on the issue. "It's time for our laws to reflect the values of modern Australia and to include everyone as equals," Shorten wrote. "All MPs should have a free vote on this matter. Let’s make marriage equality a reality."

Shorten's bill has been welcomed by the campaign for the legalization of same-sex marriage in Australia, Australian Marriage Equality (AME), who hope it, combined with the pace of events overseas, would force the Liberal party room to finally confront the issue of a conscience vote for its members. "We thank Bill Shorten for being the first leader of a major political party to introduce a marriage equality bill,"AME deputy national director Ivan Hinton-Teoh said. "We hope this bill provides the circuit breaker needed for the Coalition party room to deal with the issue and decide on a free vote." "The ball is now firmly in the Prime Minister's court to allow the many members of the Coalition who support marriage equality to be able to vote for it, and play their part in this historic reform. Now is the time for reform, and an ever increasing majority of Australians want marriage equality delivered urgently."

The Australian Greens Party and Liberal Democratic Senator David Leyonhjelm also have bills to legalize same-sex marriage in Australia.

Prime Minister Abbott has conceded (and here) he is the last person in his own family to still believe gay and lesbian couples should not be allowed to marry. "I take it seriously, I know there are millions of Australians who take it seriously. There are a range of views inside the Parliament; there are a range of views inside my party room; frankly there's a range of views inside my family. Inside the Abbott family I'm probably the last holdout for the traditional position," he added.

Mr Abbott's own sister Christine Forster is a lesbian who has been with her partner Virginia Edwards since 2003.

She said: "I’d like something more from the current prime minister… who happens to be my brother. I absolutely will be lobbying my brother, and I hope the party room makes enough noise about this."

But if the Prime Minister's Liberals are not not allowed to vote freely, there will not be enough numbers to pass the Labor Party's bill. The Liberal Party's Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, a strong supporter of marriage equality, told the ABC on Monday the matter was "up to the party room" but he supports a free vote. "The Prime Minister has been clear that the decision as to whether we have a free vote will be one taken by the party room," he said. He said change was more likely than ever because of strong public support for marriage equality.

Labor leader Shorten said he believed "the time has well and truly come for the parliament to debate marriage equality." "Our current law excludes some individuals ... it says to them, your relationships are not equally valued by the state, your love is less equal under the law." "The world isn’t waiting for Tony Abbott and our parliament shouldn't have to," he said.

Pressure is also building for marriage equality in Germany since the Irish referendum: Jens Spahn, of Merkel's Christian Democratic Union party, expressed hope despite his party's (and Chancellor Merkel's personal) opposition. He told Die Welt: "What the Catholic Irish can do, we can do, too … The populace is often further along in these matters than we think."

Opposition Green leader Katrin Göring-Eckardt told Die Welt: "It's time. Mrs Merkel." "The Merkel faction cannot just sit out the debate on marriage for all. I am confident that the Irish vote will accelerate equality in Germany. This is a great signal from Ireland. Equal love deserves equal respect."

And for fun here's a video from an Irish reporter in the LGBT bar The George in Dublin as the result was announced on TV from Dublin Castle. It's subdued when the results are given in Irish first, but as soon as it comes over in English, the camera gets knocked all over the place and the whole bar ends up singing the boisterous international soccer victory chant Olé, Olé, Olé

The photo of ripples on water is from the Flickr photo stream of Jun from Japan, and has been uploaded to Wikimedia Commons for sharing.

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