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Ireland's Health Minister Leo Varadkar Comes Out: 'I Am a Gay Man'

Varadkar
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Ireland's Health Minister Leo Varadkar has come out of the closet this morning, becoming the first openly gay minister in the country's history.

The Irish Times reports:

“I am a gay man, it’s not a secret, but not something that everyone would necessarily know but isn’t something I’ve spoken publicly about before,” he told Miriam O’Callaghan on RTÉ Radio 1.

“It’s not something that defines me,”he said. “I’m not a half-Indian politician, or a doctor politician or a gay politician for that matter. It’s just part of who I am, it doesn’t define me, it is part of my character I suppose”.

Varadkar says he decided to begin speaking publicly about his sexuality because of the upcoming political debates surrounding LGBT issues: the marriage equality referendum and the debate over blood donations from gay and bisexual men. 

Listen to Varadkar's "coming out" interview, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Ireland's Health Minister Leo Varadkar Comes Out: 'I Am a Gay Man'" »


Irish Sports Star Donal Óg Cusack Explores Homophobia Worldwide In New Documentary: VIDEO

Donal Óg Cusack

In a documentary to be screened next week on Irish broadcaster RTE, the first openly gay GAA sports star Donal Óg Cusack looks at the attitudes and opinions towards homosexuality in Ireland and around the world, reports the Independent.

The legendary goalkeeper for Cork’s hurling team caused a stir when he came out in 2009.

In Coming Out of the Curve, Cusack argues that homophobia is "the last great prejudice of our time.”

0He speaks with politician Vitaly Milinov, one of the main forces behind Russia's extreme anti-gay law. Cusack also travels to the United States where he meets gay people who are happy to share their stories.

One of those stories is from rugby player Brian 'Bru' Amerlynck (right) who battled for years with his homosexuality before deciding to come out last year.

Back in Ireland, Cusack speaks with Cork footballer Valerie Mulcahy who says she found it difficult during her formative years to deal with her sexuality. Mulcahy is the first female GAA player to come out publicly.

Towards the end of the documentary, Cusack says:

"I hope that humans will evolve to a stage where this will not matter anymore. I believe that time will come but it would be naïve to think that we are at that stage right now.”

Watch an interview with Cusack just after he came out, along with a powerful speech he gave at the Foyle Pride Festival, County Derry in 2012, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Irish Sports Star Donal Óg Cusack Explores Homophobia Worldwide In New Documentary: VIDEO" »


'Brave' Irish Priest Comes Out During Mass, Calls For Marriage Equality

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An Irish priest received a standing ovation from parishioners last weekend when he came out during mass and called for marriage equality, reports Irish Central.

Martin_2014Father Martin Dolan (right) is the only parish priest at the Church of St Nicholas of Myra (above) in Dublin city center.

Calling for a yes vote in a referendum on same-sex marriage this coming May, Dolan said “I’m gay myself” and was met by applause and a standing ovation from his “proud” parishioners.

A source within the church said:

“It was very brave. He said he was gay. That was it...no bones about it.”

With Dolan currently on a pre-planned vacation, the source added:

“[He] was just doing his service, it was part of his homily, and that’s it. If he feels strongly about something, Martin just says it.

“He’s happy with himself. There is no fear of him running away, he wouldn’t be one of them people.

“There’s a lot of gay priests but nobody will actually get up and say it.”

Congregation member and community youth worker Liz O’Connor said:

“I wouldn’t like to see him being moved for the statement he made. That would be horrendous. He should be supported. He has done nothing wrong. If he’s moved, there would be uproar in this parish. He’s still the same man today.

“Fr Martin has always been an advocate of people’s rights, and even spoke about the child abuse in the Church.

“There’s not many [priests] that would come out because they’re afraid of the bishops and that, but Martin is his own man. That’s what he believes in.”

The Dublin Archdiocese has declined to comment until officials have spoken with Dolan.

However, the Catholic Church in Ireland has made it clear that ita anti-gay, anti-equality policies remain unchanged. Last month, the church started off what is expected to be a highly charged campaign with a manifesto detailing why they hate gay people. Bishop of Elphin Kevin Doran said that his opposition to same-sex marriage is “not about homosexuality or the gay lifestyle, it is about the meaning of marriage."

Although the government supports the referendum, which is expected to pass, there have been many warnings against complacency.

Last month, we reported that a new book by former seminarian Dr John Weafer revealed that there is a strong gay scene among priests in the Irish Catholic Church.


Pro-LGBT Irish Politician Expresses Worry Over Upcoming Referendum on Gay Marriage

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Aodhán O'Ríordáin (above right), a member of Ireland’s lower parliamentary house and Equality Minister for the Labor party, has expressed his concerns for the country’s upcoming referendum on same sex marriage

Despite multiple polls showing the Irish public’s overwhelming support for gay marriage and thousands registering for the upcoming vote months in advance, O'Ríordáin fears that there isn’t yet an effort substantial enough to galvanize voters. More than just the fate of LGBT rights in Ireland, the upcoming vote could ultimately affect the governmental coalition’s already low approval ratings.

"If the vote were held next week - we would lose it,” he said in an interview with the Irish Independent. “We need an all-out campaign and complacency is among our biggest problems.”

KennyIreland’s Taoisceach (prime minister), Enda Kenny, has come out strongly in favor of gay marriage in recent months in an effort to show his centre-right party’s (Fine Gael) commitment to equality. Late last year Kenny was frank in his proclamation that, contrary to popular belief, he was far from being socially conservative in his thinking.

For all of the seeming support behind a ‘yes’ vote in the referendum though, it is unclear how the Irish public will actually vote when the time comes.

"Ireland is still relatively conservative, and despite a falloff, a large proportion follows the Catholic faith, and that would have an impact on the outcome," said Richard Colwell, CEO of Irish polling firm Red C. "But at the same time, like in any European country, there is a large number of people who are more liberal on social issues."

Unsurprisingly, Ireland's archbishop, Eamon Martin, has come out strongly against same-sex marriage, saying he wants to share the "good news" about man-woman marriage in today's "hyper-sexualized world".

Listen to O'Ríordáin speak about supporting the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network's "Stop LGBT Hate Crimes" campaign AFTER THE JUMP...

Previously, "Colin Farrell Pleads with Irish People for Gay Equality in Emotional Letter about His Brother" [tlrd]

Continue reading "Pro-LGBT Irish Politician Expresses Worry Over Upcoming Referendum on Gay Marriage" »


St. Louis Musician Files Lawsuit Claiming He Was Discriminated Against Because His Partner is a Black Man

CgmedMusician and teacher James Mounsey has sued the St. Louis Irish Arts Center (SLIA), citing discrimination. Specifically, the suit says “defendants began to discriminate against [Mounsey]...because his partner is a black man.”

The SLIA is an official member of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann, the international organization that promotes traditional Irish arts and culture. Mounsey's lawsuit points to the rules of the Missouri Commission on Human Rights, which he claims were violated by other SLIA employees, who undermined and discriminated against him on the basis of his same-sex relationship.

Specifically implicated in the lawsuit is SLIA director Helen Gannon. Mounsey says Gannon once told him: “you [Mounsey] have made some grave decisions very, very quickly which will affect every aspect of your life flaunting them and forcing us to accept them which will have consequences out of your control.”

Gannon denies having made these statements, saying “teachers were discouraged from bringing dates to work,“ but that otherwise, Mounsey's claims are false.

With his lawsuit, Mounsey has provided a letter he sent to Gannon, resigning due to a "discriminatory atmosphere" in the workplace. In December 2013, while on a trip to his native Ireland, Mounsey was told via letter that he was "no longer affiliated with SLIA."

[h/t Irish Central]


Amnesty International 'Disappointed' In Ireland's Current Draft of Trans Bill

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Amnesty International and LGBT activists in Ireland are disappointed in the current draft of a new bill that recognizes transgender identities, but requires them to jump through several bureaucratic hoops just to do so reports Pink News. If passed, the bill will legally recognize transgender identities in dealings with the State, public bodies, civil and commercial society. AI and LGBT activists are grateful that the Irish government is attempting to validate transgender identities however, the process to do so is rather harmful.

The bill forces married transgender people to divorce in order to gain gender recognition, in accordance with the country’s ban on same-sex marriage. Additionally while the bill allows for 16 and 17-year-olds to obtain legal gender recognition, they require a court order and parental consent to do so, which campaigners warn could cause further harm. Denis Krivosheev of AI believes the bill needs heavy revision.

Said Krivosheev:

Krivosheev"This bill will require substantial changes if it is to tackle the serious issue of discrimination against transgender people. Rather than making it as easy as possible for all transgender people to obtain legal recognition of their identity, there are several groups that will be short-changed by the bill – in particular those who are married or in civil partnerships, minors, and those who do not wish to undergo medical treatment.

"The bill completely overlooks the needs of those who may wish to remain married, or who are going through divorce proceedings, while obtaining legal recognition of their gender. This is a violation of their human rights.

"Instead, the bill cruelly forces transgender people to separate from their loved one – and then spend years in limbo without either a partner or the legal recognition of their identity."

Meanwhile, the Irish government has announced that a referendum on same-sex marriage will take place next May. 


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