‘Gay rights’ often conjures up visions of men in tight fitting clothes and glitter and women top to toe in dungarees en masse, shaking their bodies to Kylie or some other camp artiste, on top of a float. It has its roots from a little known riot that happened in 1966 in Christopher Street in New York in what became later known as the Stonewall riots. 51/53 Christopher Street – Police consistently raided the gay bars in the area and on the 28th of June decided to carry out their usual raids, but with an unexpected turn of events, they were faced with the vast array of the gay spectrum ready to fight for their rights to congregate, to drink in an establishment, to wear what they want, but most importantly, be themselves – which things the average person takes for granted. A riot ensued but this in itself was the kick start of the gay rights movement.
Fast forward to 2011 and to our own little island on the western seaboard: have we achieved much in terms of gay rights? Up until 1993 homosexuality was illegal until Senator David Norris brought the country to the European Court of Human Rights to strike the laws from the statute books, a move which allowed young gay men like myself to now live our lives on equal footing with other fellow humans, the barriers of inequality have been broken down however this does not go far enough. Civil partnerships are currently offered but how far do these go? Well in terms of tax, inheritance etc we are indeed considered human but what about childrens rights? Ah now that is where we hit a snag!.Im not going to go into the details as there is a lot of scenarios which would take time to explain but putting it simply a child in a CP has less rights than that of a child in normal run of the mill marriage, this is one outstanding point that needs to be addressed.
Gay rights itself is not completely above rapproach itself , a lot of people fear they themselves are not moving with the time. Parading down O Connell St while its a hoot and by jesus an excellent party (should see the hangovers people do be suffering!) this was what worked nearly fifty years ago for when there was anti gay legislation on the books. Peoples opinions of gays is altered when they see the hoardes coming down O Connell St , indeed your average Joe Soap homosexual will oft roll his eyes and let out a deep sigh. Gay rights campaigners should be working on getting people into the Dail, into the councils, positions where they can change things.
The Gay Rights movement needs to work with society and society with it to ensure a balanced world and no injustices, which we saw so evidently in the way the Norris presidential campaign has been coming under attack. For if we dont continue to work with one and other, we wont have a Stonewall riot, we will just have a stone wall between us.