What does the future hold for the island formerly known as the Isle of Saints and Scholars?
Last month saw Ireland become the first country in the world to vote in favour of same-sex marriage. 62% of voters supported a constitutional amendment to introduce same-sex marriage. This was a wake-up call to many people, home and abroad, who still viewed Ireland as a Catholic country. There have been many factors that have contributed to this change in identity and culture in Ireland. The aim of this post, however, is not to examine why a supposedly Catholic country voted definitively in favour of same-sex marriage.
This post is a snapshot of Ireland’s changing culture. It outlines six other items in the news in the last month which didn’t gain as much attention as the marriage referendum, and may have even passed some people by. Yet, they point to a radical cultural shift which is transforming the island and impact the family.
1 May: Irish Facebook users can choose from 71 gender identities on Facebook (The Irish Times)
Users can now choose up to 10 of the 71 terms to accurately describe their gender identity. Gender theory is the denial of biology and promotes the idea that gender that this is infinitely fluid and malleable.
21 May: The Ashers Bakery Ruling (The Belfast Telegraph)
In Northern Ireland, Ashers Bakery, owned by Christian couple Daniel and Amy McArthur, were asked to make a cake for International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. The customer (a volunteer member of the LGBT advocacy group Queer Space) wanted the cake have a picture of Bert and Ernie (the Sesame Street friends who have been hijacked by the gay community who portray them as a homosexual couple) and the words “Support Gay Marriage”. Same-sex marriage is illegal in Northern Ireland. As same-sex marriage is against their beliefs, the owners declined the order. On 21st May, a judge ruled that “this is direct discrimination for which there can be no justification”. This is not direct discrimination, but now raises major concerns about religious freedom in Ireland.
22 May: Marriage Referendum
Ireland voted in favour of amending the constitution to include “marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex”.
24 May: “Dr Death” holds a euthanasia workshop in Dublin (The Independent and Newstalk)
Dr Philip Nitschke held a workshop in Dublin on “end of life options”. He is famously known in his native Australia as Dr Death, and claims to be the first doctor in the world to administer a legal, voluntary, lethal injection. He successfully campaigned to legalise euthanasia in Australia and helped four people die, before the ruling was overturned.
The following day, Dr Philip Nitschke was on national radio station, Newstalk, sharing his chilling ideas with Pat Kenny. The podcast of the interview is available online.
25 May: Labour party promise abortion referendum (Newstalk)
The Monday morning after Friday’s marriage referendum, Minister for Equality Aodhán Ó Ríordáin appeared on Newstalk and promised a referendum on the 8th amendment if Labour are elected in the next general election.
2 June: Bruce Jenner becomes Caitlyn Jenner (The Irish Times)
The unveiling of Caitlyn Jenner to the world brought the issues affecting Irish transgender individuals to the news headlines
3 June: Gender recognition bill (The Irish Times)
The Gender Recognition Bill was first published in 2014. It came to my attention this week when the Bill was changed. Under the 2014 Bill, a person who changed gender would have to divorce their spouse, if married. The 2015 Bill has dropped the “forced divorce” clause. Furthermore, the Bill adopts a “self-declaration” approach to affirming gender identity, as individuals will no longer have to have a supporting statement from a psychiatrist or endocrinologist.
This short video paints a bigger picture of the question of gender identity and the issues surrounding it in Ireland.