The battle for equal rights, which Hot Press has proudly helped wage since the 1970s, has been won!
Early tallies suggest a resounding victory for the ‘Yes’ side in the Marriage Equality referendum
The sun was shining in Dublin this morning, suggesting that the cosmos was in tune with developments in Ireland. And the news as the ballot boxes were opened across the country in the referendum on Same Sex Marriage was hugely positive.
It had been predicted that a high turnout would favour those who were advocating a change in the constitution – and that is the way it seems to be playing out.
While the figures are incomplete, Yes campaigners have hailed the unfolding results as representing an historic day for Ireland and for the Irish. For its side, the ‘No’ side has conceded defeat.
Hot Press has campaigned for years for true equality for gays and lesbians in Ireland and this morning’s news offers a vindication of the stance that the magazine has taken consistently over the past thirty-plus years.
“It is a fantastic day to be alive in Ireland,” said Hot Press editor, Niall Stokes. “To see such a resounding ‘Yes' vote is the most eloquent possible statement about how this country has changed – and how far away it has moved from the religious obscurantism which was responsible for the appalling oppression of gays and lesbians in this country over the past century and more.
“During the course of the campaign, as I said in an editorial in the current issue of Hot Press, we saw a huge amount of disinformation, lies and hypocrisy on the ‘No’ side. It is really encouraging that the people of Ireland saw through all of that and understood that this was fundamentally about equality. Either people are entitled to be treated as fully equal citizens or they are not – and the citizens of this Republic have said Yes and Yes and Yes again to that core principle."
Minister for Health, Leo Varadker, who came out as gay in advance of the campaign and who worked especially hard throughout the build-up, looked and sounded more relaxed, and more himself, that at any stage in his political career. Clearly happy, and quietly emotional at the extent of the ‘Yes’ lead, he said that it felt more like a revolution than a referendum.
Dublin North West TD John Lyons revealed that he was having difficulty keeping it together. He was clearly ecstatically happy and went on to pay tribute to his own mammy. She hated the fact that he was involved in politics, he explained, but she herself had taken up the mantle and gone out and canvassed for a ‘Yes’ vote.
In a message which brought the issue back to the appalling mistreatment of gay people in Ireland in the past, as well as elsewhere in the world, the former leader of the Labour party, Eamon Gilmore, said that the results were a powerful statement by Ireland to the rest of the world, in many parts of which homosexuals are still persecuted.
Meanwhile the President of USL, Laura Harmon, who is her self gay, emphasised the importance of the youth vote to the outcome.
“Students,” she said, "can be rightly proud of the tremendous contribution they have made to the success of this historic marriage equality referendum campaign.”
“I am so happy, personally and for everyone involved in the magazine, that Hot Press was able to contribute to bringing this change about,” Niall Stokes added. “It was always integral to what Hot Press was about, but in practical terms, we began many years ago when we provided a platform for gay people all over Ireland to advertise for same sex relationships in a way that was uncensored and totally without prejudice. And, for many years, we ran the only regular column by an openly gay person, describing gay life again in a totally uninhibited way, under the Bootboy banner – which was written superbly by Dermod Moore.
“To have been able to play a part in the campaign itself, and to spread the word to the Hot Press audience that this was – and is – a hugely important moment gave us great satisfaction. The response to the two front covers of the current issue, which showed two same sex couples kissing has been overwhelming.
“It has been hugely gratifying to feel the love and the appreciation. But in the end I think that we all have to remember the efforts of one man, who did more than anyone else to kick start the changes that we are now seeing come to this inspiring flowering this morning – and that man is David Norris. The Supreme Court ruled against him when he took a constitutional case that his human rights were being denied by the criminalisation of homosexual sex. He risked personal disaster when he took his case to the European Courts of Justice. He won. But where would we be now, if he had not had the courage and the determination to take the terrible risks that were forced on him by the political, legal and clerical establishment in Ireland at the time?”
"The winning of this referendum goes back to that other historic victory and so I want to acknowledge that. But it has only been possible because of the essential decency, kindness and generosity of Irish people. We have shown our very best side to the world this week. We should now bring these qualities into every aspect of political and social life here and make this the best place in the world to live."
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