Amnesty International launches YES campaign for marriage equality

Pride marches in Dublin and Galway, August 2012. © Amnesty International

Love does not discriminate, and neither should our laws.



24 March 2015

Today in Dublin, Amnesty International activists and supporters assembled at a 1,000 strong rally to launch its campaign for a YES vote in the upcoming referendum on civil marriage equality.
Launching the campaign, Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland said:
“May 22 will be an historic date. It is a day when we all, as Irish people, have a chance to stand for a Republic of equals. A day when we can more fully realise equality for all of our people. It is fitting that we are launching this campaign outside the GPO. Here, almost a century ago those who proclaimed our Republic, asserted that Ireland would value and cherish all of its people equally.
“Love does not discriminate, and neither should our laws." – Colm O'Gorman.

LGBT people should be free to love, and have the right to commit to the person they love and to celebrate that love. Ireland will be the first country to put this proposition to a popular vote by referendum. We can, if we join together for equality and turn out to vote on 22 May, make history by enshrining the right of equal access to civil marriage in our Constitution. We can work to further realise an Ireland that is a based on equality and human rights, and voting YES in May will bring us one step closer to that goal.”

Grainne Healy, Yes Equality spokesperson commented:  
“There are now eight weeks until the people of Ireland will decide if we want to make history voting Yes and sharing their freedom to marry with lesbian and gay people. We ask to share the freedom to marry because we value marriage and know its significance. We also know that Irish people are fair minded and their instincts tell them that voting yes is the fair thing to do.”
Pat Carey, former Government Minister said:
“This forthcoming referendum is unique in Ireland in that it is an exercise in civic engagement which has not been tried before. The Constitutional Convention recommended a referendum on marriage equality, the Government and Oireachtas adopted that and it is now over to the people of Ireland to make their judgment on what I believe has the potential to be a watershed moment in Ireland.
“When this referendum passes I believe it will lead to Ireland becoming an even more generous, kinder, compassionate, caring and tolerant country but we cannot take a Yes for granted. We must ensure that everybody close to us is involved in an honest and open conversation about all the implications of taking such an important decision. Yes voters should not be taken for granted and many of them may still need to be reassured. People who are in doubt are open to persuasion and we should not hesitate in trying to persuade those very important people. I think we must refrain from confrontational and offensive language and allow this debate to develop in a way which has not happened in referenda in Ireland.
“People of my generation do have doubts but they are our greatest supporters when they are convinced. This is a campaign like any other – voters need to be asked. Irish people are used to being asked on the doorsteps for their vote. We must avail of every opportunity to make direct contact with voters. Sitting at home talking to each other or talking to people who are already convinced won’t win this referendum – conviction, hardwork and shoe leather will.
“What better way for the people of Ireland to proclaim our true republican values based as they are on the Declaration of the Rights of man, the US and French constitutions’ principles of liberty, equality and solidarity. In spite of our own trials and setbacks we still value the old Irish proverb of ‘ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine” and what better time and place to celebrate our pledge to cherish all the children of our nation equally.”
Speakers at the launch included: Grace Dyas, Adrian Shanahan, Clara Barry, Sabina and Gavin Brennan.
Note for Editors
Everyone has a right to be free from discrimination in the enjoyment of their human rights – including the right to marry and found a family.  This is provided in Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 26 of the ICCPR provides for equal protection of everyone before the law. For over a decade sexual orientation has been a prohibited ground of discrimination under international human rights law.
There is no objective justification for denying access to civil marriage to same sex couples. It serves no legitimate social purpose or national interest. Therefore to do so is discrimination.
The only reason for denying civil marriage to same sex couples is negative attitudes and beliefs around sexual orientation and gender identity. Sometimes these are prejudices that are deeply entrenched. They fuel other human rights violations against LGBTI people around the world.
This is why Amnesty International adopted a global policy in 2007 calling for an end to discrimination in civil marriage laws on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Our membership here in Ireland decided by a vote at our Annual Conference in 2009 to endorse and support a campaign for civil marriage equality here in Ireland.
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Amnesty International Ireland has registered with the Standards in Public Office for the duration of its referendum campaign
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Amnesty International Ireland

Bríd McGrath

+353 (0)877708631