Yesterday LGBT Noise held a protest outside the opening of the International Eucharistic Congress in the RDS.
Like it was going to change anything?
The real question that might be asked is if it was a correct and politically astute location and target for a protest? I know there has been a lot of polite silence from many people about yesterday’s events. I’ve never really been one for polite silence.
In 2012 if the church came anywhere near one of ‘our’ events to protest we would be horrified and belligerent . Many of us campaign for freedom of speech and association so that LGBT’s can march and assemble world wide.
While LGBT Noise no doubt will point to the hate preached by the Catholic Church, this hatred is preached by some in all religious beliefs. However the state is the agent of change and has evolved and is in charge of ensuring that legislation is introduced and that people are treated equally. There are 166 TD’s and their offices are in Kildare Street and throughout the country. We have gay TD’s – we even have a practising catholic gay TD. As a ‘movement’, as individuals, voters, families and citizens we have our place at the table. (oops I nearly typed altar…)
This congress is not an event dedicated to homosexuality or curing gays so again I wondered why a protest would be organised pointing fingers at an organisation for being in existence and believing what it does.
I protested the Vatican’s statement against homosexuality in a demonstration outside the Papal Nuncio’s house over twenty years ago. This was a time when the state did not act to protect us. When religious organisations lobbied successfully to have the state discriminate against us. Many people were shunned by families for their sexuality based on church teaching. That hate was real. My anger was also real, but the focus and thinking moved to looking at citizenship and human rights and enshrining them in the state and its tenets because that was where change could actually happen. Not in trying to change ‘makey uppey as they go along’ (if devoutly held by some) beliefs.
This was before decriminalisation of homosexuality, equality legislation, civil partnership, anti homophobia campaigns in schools and countless other policy changes which have been introduced by Irish governments and agencies. Dáil committees now hold hearings where LGBT organisations are invited to appear and are congratulated for their work. The state finally moved to change much in Irish society. Further change is still required and is promised in terms of protecting LGBT teachers and others employed in organisations with particular ethoses.
The church is also a very very different animal. A wounded animal. And a protest on something that won’t change and doesn’t matter outside its events now looks like you are kicking that animal when it’s down or even giving it more attention that it actually deserves. In fact it lets the state off the hook by not keeping the pressure where it rightly belongs.
The other important thing – the vast majority of Irish people don’t believe or agree with what the church says about homosexuality and are prepared to say so. We don’t need to be outside Congresses wasting our time – we need to continue to develop our responses to support LGBT people coming out and living happy and healthy lives and calling on the state to help us to do so also.
In fact we need to be lobbying those with real power and threat to our rights infrastructure, the business sector and employers, who want to retract rights protections because they say it costs too much to include diversity in society. We need to lobby politicians who think that rights are too expensive or not important enough to maintain in a period of austerity. We need to watch the ‘blame the Troika game’ that is being played. We also need to call to account people in rights organisations who collude with all sorts of rights being removed and watered down because it suits them to keep their jobs and funding. Nothing to do with religion at all.