The National LGBT Federation (NXF) would like to begin our monthly update by paying tribute to recently departed Managing Editor Lisa Connell who has moved on from GCN to pursue new career opportunities.
As publishers of GCN, we are immensely proud of Lisa’s tenure at the helm of Ireland’s LGBTQ+ paper-of-record, where she and her dedicated team displayed great flair, creativity and professionalism at a time when the need to amplify and platform the voices of our proud Rainbow community is more important than ever.
As guardians of this essential publication, we are determined to play our part in helping guide it through this time of change but where its progressive ethos will remain as strong as ever.
In other developments, we were pleased to accept an invitation from Ceann Comhairle Sean O’Fearghail TD (Chair of Dail Eireann) to attend his Symposium in Dublin Castle on advancing diversity in public and political life.
The Ceann Comhairle furnished us with statistics that reveal in quite stark terms just how unrepresentative the composition of our Parliament is. In short, it is far too male, pale and straight and we very much agreed with his assessment that the political system is not doing “half-enough” to encourage more women and LGBTQ+ citizens into public life.
We heard from a diverse range of voices throughout the day but one clear and consistent point weaved its way through all the contributions – the crucial importance of visible representation, especially in positions of power and influence. Essentially, if you ‘can’t see it, you can’t be it’.
However, it is not enough to simply boost diversity – the values underpinning it must be embedded throughout the organisation/institution.
This author was also delighted to have the opportunity to pay tribute to the one and only Senator David Norris, who has used his role in the Seanad to consistently advocate for equality and who played such a defining role in the evolution of Irish society from one that criminalised gay people to constitutionally enshrined marriage equality.
David in many ways embodies the founding purpose of the Seanad as a body to give voice to minority interests and communities, and any discussion around greater diversity in Irish public life would do well to reference the need for our second chamber to rediscover its vocational spirit rather than primarily being a vehicle to shore up party political representation.
Meanwhile, the Dáil recently reconvened for its Autumn term with a commitment from Government to finally legislate against Hate Crime – a pressing priority for the NXF and the wider LGBT+ community.
We also saw the launch of a new public awareness campaign by the Coalition Against Hate Crime, which is certainly timely in light of the disturbing spate of Hate attacks in Dublin in particular targeting LGBTQ+ people.
The NXF also continues to be active in the crucially important campaign to outlaw dangerous and abusive so-called ‘Conversion Practices’. The Steering Group working to secure a full ban is keen for members of the LGBTQ+ community to respond to research that will help inform new legislation. Confidentiality is guaranteed and full details can be found by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, we were pleased to feed-in to an Oireachtas briefing by the Irish Human Rights And Equality Commission (IHREC) on the importance of understanding the ‘Public Sector Duty’.
‘The Duty’ places a legal responsibility on all public sector agencies to visibly and proactively advance diversity across their organisation and eliminate any and all forms of prejudice and discrimination against the nine protected equality grounds that include sexual orientation and gender identity.
This statutory obligation can be met in numerous ways including the encouragement of Staff Networks, regular and comprehensive equality training, supporting Pride and similar events, and above all dismantling any barriers that serve to hinder people being their authentic selves, either in the workplace or as service users.