3 mins


The annual Pride Political Debate returns again this year, where this author, in collaboration with Outhouse LGBTQ+ Centre, will chair what promises to be a most engaging and informative panel discussion.

As in previous years, I will be joined by a gathering of prominent social and political figures who will share their thoughts on advancing key LGBTQ+ policy priorities in 2024 and beyond.

As this will be the last Pride Debate before a looming general election, I will be keen to hear from government representatives about delivering on the outstanding LGBTQ+ legislative commitments in the Fianna Fáil/ Fine Gael/Green Programme for Government. For the opposition voices on my panel, it will be important to examine their stances on those key issues, in addition to hearing about how they intend to further the cause of LGBTQ+ equality should they form part of the next administration.

A major priority since at least 2016 has been the enactment of robust Hate Crime legislation to ensure that our laws are fit for purpose in protecting our communities against the scourge of hate. Ireland is currently an outlier in the European and western world in not recognising hate crimes in law.

The Hate Crime Bill is currently before the Oireachtas, and we in the National LGBT Federation (NXF) have joined a coalition of over 20 civil society organisations in calling for this much-needed legislation to be enacted without further delay. In addition to legislating against hate crimes for the first time in Ireland, the Bill also seeks to modernise hopelessly outdated and largely toothless hate speech laws that date from 1989. At a time when we see the proliferation of online hate increasingly having real world consequences, it is crucial that our laws in this area are fully equipped to deal with the realities of 21st century Ireland.

Despite the Bill being overwhelmingly passed by the Dáil on a cross-party basis, it has since stalled in the Seanad (Irish Senate) for the past year and been subjected to a deluge of disinformation and fearmongering.

Recently released figures showing yet another year-onyear rise in recorded hate crimes, and the clear demand of the very communities impacted by hate to place the rights and needs of victims at the heart of this debate, should now serve as the impetus to finally see this Bill passed into law.

On assuming office, Taoiseach Simon Harris re-committed to passing what is a Programme for Government pledge, while looking at possible amendments to clarify certain aspects of the Bill.

As our current Parliament has only a matter of months left in its mandate, I will want to hear from my panellists an updated timeline for enacting the Bill. Ultimately, the safety of our communities must come before any political manoeuvrings or contrived ‘culture wars’.

Another key priority is the long-awaited ban on so-called ‘conversion practices’, with a commitment to outlaw what is a recognised form of torture against LGBTQ+ people contained in the Programme for Government. In outlawing this inherently abusive practice, Ireland will be joining numerous other countries that have already done so. Indeed, we can look to other jurisdictions to see examples of best practice, such as France and Canada who have ensured that their legislation is fully LGBTQ+ inclusive and free of any loopholes that would enable the abuse to continue in practice. We also don’t need to look very far to see just how not to approach the issue; in England, the Tory government reneged on a once promised ban, preferring instead to fan the flames of a deeply toxic ‘culture war’ targeting trans people in particular.

In discussing these and other topics, we all need to be acutely aware of the wider global backdrop that confronts us in 2024, where LGBTQ+ equality is being actively targeted as part of a broader attack against democratic norms and values.

Ireland can choose stagnation on these issues or we can opt to once again provide the kind of inspiring leadership that was displayed to the world on that famous day in May 2015.

In addition to the Pride Political Debate, I am also looking to conduct the NXF ‘Pride Series’ interviews with the Taoiseach and other significant political figures. These one-on-one interviews have been taking place since 2021 and allow for a thorough look at how the political leaders of the day view LGBTQ+ equality issues. Look out for these interviews on GCN and related platforms throughout the latter half of Pride Month.

Don’t miss the Pride Political Debate on Tuesday, June 25, 2024, from 7-9pm in Outhouse LGBTQ+ Centre.

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