'˜We have come a long way'

The battle for recognition and equality for Inishowen's lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans community has taken a major leap forward one year on from the historic referendum, those involved in the campaign have said.

Tuesday, 24th May 2016, 10:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 24th May 2016, 10:01 am
The happy couple: Connie (left) and Sinead (right) Murray Lynch )pictured with their daughter Blaithín, centre) during their Civil Partnership in August 20, 2015. The couple now plan to get married in the coming years.

Speaking a year to the day after the result was announced, Sinead Murray Lynch, who helped spearhead the Yes Equality Donegal campaign, said yesterday that while the legacy has been very positive, there is still some way to go to ensure all LGBT people feel included in society.

In the Referendum back in May 2015, voters were asked whether to add to the Constitution that “marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex”.

The proposal was approved by almost 63% of voters, with around 55% in Inishowen voting yes.

The Department for Social Protection has confirmed to the ‘Journal’ that since the marriage legislation was introduced in November 2015, there have been 11 same-sex weddings conducted in Donegal - the sixth highest number from the 26 counties in the Republic (joint with Wexford).

As of last week there were 26 same sex marriage notifications from across Donegal.

Sinead Murray Lynch and her partner Connie, who became Civil Partners back in August 2015, are among those who now plan to get married.

Speaking about the impact of the majority Yes vote from Inishowen and the rest of the county, Sinead, a youth worker with the Donegal Youth Service, said: “I think this was emotional and overwhelming part of the whole campaign- the people who weren’t directly affected as such or who weren’t LGBT came out in their droves. To have that support was just lovely. Even with younger LGBT people, there is now a greater sense of belonging and that they are part of the community since it happened. There is a lot of work still to be done, including in schools, but it has just left a real positive legacy.”

Sinn Fein Senator Padraig MacLochlainn also welcomed the positive legacy the Referendum has had in the Inishowen area, but agreed that the fight for equality for the LGBT community is still not finished. We have come a long way but it is still really hard for young people who are LGBT to be confident in their sexuality and to feel free to express that. We still have a journey to make,” he said.