Tuesday, March 19, 2013
For Immediate Publication
The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has made a submission to the Constitutional Convention on equal access to civil marriage in Ireland. The submission is a comprehensive document outlining USI’s position in favour of marriage equality in Ireland. It also contains personal testimonies from students about what it was like to ‘come out’ and why marriage equality is important to them.
In her contribution to the submission, recently graduated Louise* talks about the inherent inequality that meets young people when they identify themselves as LGBT: “I truly believe that the depression, isolation and loneliness experienced by many young LGBT people like myself stems from the fact that the minute you say the words aloud – ‘I am gay’ – you suddenly become unequal to your siblings and your peers under the law.”
Ben talks about how equal marriage rights might help young people feel more secure about their identity from an earlier age: “I did my very best to be ignored. I missed out on so many things a secondary school student shouldn’t. The one that stands out in my mind was that I missed my Debs. My classmates didn’t even realise I didn’t go. I cannot blame anyone. I exiled myself. I can only speculate, but I believe strongly that if marriage equality had been achieved before I started secondary school my anxiety would have been lessened.” Ben went on to be elected Equality Officer of IT Tralee Students’ Union.
Laura discusses the institutional discrimination she felt as a pupil at both primary and secondary level. “Throughout primary and secondary school, I never heard the word gay or lesbian being mentioned in a positive way by any of my teachers or peers. The only times I heard it was in a derogatory manner, and always unchallenged.”
Finally, Amee simply asks the State to treat her the same as her straight family members. “I am not asking for anything special, I am asking for equality. How can the government of our country deny one of their citizens the right to marry the love of their life. I want to be given the exact same rights as my straight brother. I want to be given the exact same rights as my parents. In 21st century Ireland, how can we, the Irish nation, still not see equality as a priority within our society?” Amee has recently been elected President of her Students’ Union.
Link to USI’s full submission: http://bit.ly/WT4lGQ
Laura Harmon, USI Vice-President for Equality and Citizenship said:
“I am heartened by the enthusiasm and leadership that Students’ Union officers from all four regions have shown for this issue over the past year. USI has a unanimous mandate from our members to campaign for equal access to civil marriage in Ireland. This is a civil rights issue that students feel very strongly about. We hope that members of the Convention will take our submission on board and listen to the personal stories told by students in the document about why marriage equality is a crucial step in realising the rights of LGBT persons in Ireland.”
Amanda Piesse, Dean of Students at Trinity College Dublin said:
“This proposal from the USI is extremely welcome, both in terms of its content and its timing. Our higher education institutions, vitally, foster engagement with social understandings of justice and equality, both in terms of what we pursue through our research and in the learning processes that students and staff engage in together. We work together for a society defined and determined by a fully-informed desire for equality and justice. As Dean of Students at Trinity College Dublin, part of my role is to encourage and facilitate all of our students in developing their full potential in every aspect of their lives. For this reason, both professionally and personally, I wholeheartedly endorse this proposal.”
*Name has been changed at the request of the contributor.
For more information contact Ronan Costello, USI Media and Communications Executive, on 085 1164263.