Ireland's Same Sex Marriage Referendum Encourages More LGBT People To Come Out

By Samantha Finch, Parent Herald May 22, 11:57 pm

More youth members of the LGBT community have come out since Ireland passed the same sex marriage referendum on May 23, 2015. Ireland is the first country to legalize same sex marriage by popular vote.

LGBT Acceptance

BeLonGTo, a national organization for the youth members of the LGBT community, surveyed more than 1,300 young people aged between 14 and 23. Fifty-three percent of the respondents said they know someone who has come out since Ireland legalized same sex marriage, the Irish Times reported.

According to the survey, 39 percent of LGBT respondents said they talked to someone for the first time about their sexuality since the country's same sex marriage referendum. The survey also found that 62 percent who have recently come out as LGBT are clueless about where to seek help and support, while 61 percent of young people want to improve the conditions of their mental health.

Significant Changes

Some 412 same sex couples married in Ireland since the referendum was passed, RTE reported. More than half of the marriages (213) were held in Dublin.

Rory O'Neill a.k.a. Panti Bliss, a prominent personality in the Yes campaign for same sex marriage, said the referendum empowered the LGBT community. It also secured gay people's position in Irish society, according to RTE.

Ireland's same sex marriage referendum symbolizes the country's move to loosen its grip on Catholic conservatism. It was only in 1993 when Ireland decriminalized homosexuality, Vice wrote.

About 1.2 million people voted in favor of last year's gay marriage referendum, while more than 730,000 opposed the referendum, the Guardian reported. The historic law was enacted on November 16, 2015.

Homophobic Bullying

ShoutOut, a voluntary organization that holds anti-bullying workshops in Ireland schools, said homophobic and transphobic bullying still exists among communities despite the country's pro-LGBT stance. A research conducted by ShoutOut found that LGBT teens have higher chances of committing suicide, Newstalk reported.

According to the study, 67 percent of students witnessed LGBT bullying in school. Thirty-nine percent of Irish secondary school students think their LGBT peers should have better protection in schools.

Studyclix.ie founder Luke Saunders said LGBT bullying doesn't just occur in schools. Cyberbullying is now rampant as well, and this kind of harassment is harder to control.

Gay rights activist Stephen Donnan launched the #VoteProudly2016 campaign last April to empower the LGBT community, according to a separate report from Vice. Donnan said the Democratic Unionist Party is the main hindrance when it comes to advancing the equality debate onward in Northern Ireland.

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