There are many fair and progressive reasons to vote yes in the expected referendum on marriage equality later this year and I agree with most of them. However there is a less immediately obvious reason to support the constitutional amendment on same-sex relationships. A positive vote in the plebiscite will send out from Ireland a message of mutual acceptance and respect when it comes to human sexuality that may perhaps give some small solace to men and women enduring lives of persecution and fear far beyond the shores of this island nation. It will be a public declaration of the social and cultural values this country stands for in the first half of the 21st century, just as those who read out the Proclamation of the Irish Republic made their declaration of our virtues in the first half of the 20th. From Britain’s Independent newspaper:
“Isis militants allegedly threw a man charged with having an affair with another man off the top of a building and then beat him to death when he survived the fall, a human rights watchdog has claimed.
The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) quoted a source as saying the man was killed in the Tal Abyad town in Raqqa, an Isis stronghold. The Observatory obtains its information from a network of activists on the ground.
The man’s reported death follows a spate of executions within a 24-hour period earlier this month, which included two men accused of homosexual acts reportedly being thrown off a building. A series of photos were released via the “Information Office of the mandate of Nineveh” claiming to show militants administering ‘hudud’ (fixed punishments).
The images appeared to show the men at the top of a large tower overlooking Ninevah, a city in Iraq. One image showed a man falling towards the ground, where a large crowd appears to be controlled by a line of militants.”
While it is easy to sympathise with the transitory “Je Suis Charlie!” a more tangible response to bigots of all faiths and none will be a mark beside the “Yes” option on the referendum paper in a few months time.
“It is an instance, a poor one perhaps, of the new Ireland – and Ireland reverting to ’48 and ’98 – when Irishmen preached not freedom for themselves alone but freedom for all others.” Roger Casement, May 12th 1913.