Maman Poulet | Clucking away crookedly through media, politics and life

Marriage not so much a Burning Issue?

November 12th, 2009 · 5 Comments · Equality, Equality Authority, Gay, Homophobia, Irish Politics, Lesbian, LGBT, Marriage Equality, Same Sex Partnerships

The Burning Issues research launched today by the National Lesbian and Gay Federation comes shortly before the debating of the Civil Partnership Bill. Yesterday evening a number of LGBT organisations were invited to the Equality Authority for a briefing on the Bill. As Tipster says it’s a bit odd that GLEN could not/did not want to get all the players into the room themselves and a state agency had to do the calling!  I wonder what the tunes from the Hymm sheets to be sung to are going to sound like. (Stay tuned for news on coverage of the CP bill debates.)

Back to this research which was a survey of over 1100 people using online non random methods. Funded by the European Commission and SIPTU it was conducted earlier this year and is launched tomorrow along with a report of a conference on Marriage Matters hosted by the NLGF in May.  The NLGF have stated that they are using this research to establish their mandate in influencing policy in national and international spheres – ooh a consultation!  To be followed by meetings around the country!  Good to see talking and listening to people is suddenly in vogue!

..the NLGF decided to consult with LGBT individuals and organisations nationwide, on what they consider to be the most important policy areas affecting them. The first stage of this was undertaking an online survey of the community. We were delighted to receive over 1100 responses to the survey, which makes it one of the largest consultation exercises ever undertaken with the LGBT community. The results of the survey form the basis of this report.
The next stage will be a number of meetings with people and organisations across the country to discuss the issues and plot the way forward. This will help us prioritise our future work, and inform us as to how we may best continue to support the LGBT community.

The Key Research Findings on the main issues concerning the LGBT community rank as follows

1. Equal Rights at Work

2. Personal Security

3. Marriage Equality

4. Support for younger LGBT people

5. Supporting people coming out

The Age and Gender split on the issues is very interesting and there is a strong emphasis in the report on the issues affecting people outside of Dublin and the difference between rural and urban respondents.

Marriage equality ranks highest for women under 35 and only 5th highest for women over 35. It does not rank at in the top five issues for Men over 35 and is third important for younger men.

It is to the Qualitative Data that the researchers are asked to turn to to drag up the Marriage Equality ranking.  Put simply respondents said more in open answers as a Burning Issue Priority on Marriage Equality issues than any other. So that makes it important again.  This blog’s resident sociologists can interpret this further if they wish! (Question 4a in the questionnaire and page 24 and 25 of the report)

Respect and dignity at work and safety in the streets coming higher than marriage in this research may serve as an important reminder to those recognised as commentators and consulted on LGBT issues.  But then again a few of them are busy talking up the LGBT community as confident actors in the economy.  Oops that was before the recession, I don’t know what the spin will be now.  Maybe the vulnerable and socially excluded drums will start beating soon enough as the money runs out.

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5 Comments so far

  • Niamh

    Firstly – I haven’t read the Burning Issues research in detail, nor was I able to make the Equality Authority event. Labour LGBT however was invited to the EA event, and attended. Apparently it was packed anyway, and I do welcome every conversation we have about this, but I also look forward to having other conversations too. The timing of the EA event was interesting – while very appreciative of it, I am baffled as to why it’s taken so long for them to have one.

    As for Tipster’s point, I do know that all “the players? have been in various rooms, sat at the same table, together on occasions over the time which the campaigns for marriage equality have been taking place and the responsibility to have those conversations and meetings cannot rest with any one body.

    Regarding the report – I too would like to hear how the NLGF identified marriage equality (specifically those words) as issue 3. Given that it was an openended question I presume marriage rights was used as an umbrella term. Either way, I think it would be regrettable if this was used to imply that people wanted marriage rights over partnership rights rather than being understood as people wanting marriage rights.

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  • NLGF

    The main quantitative question in the Burning Issues survey (Question 1A) presented respondents with a list of 10 policy priorities to rate on a 10 point importance scale. Civil partnerships were not included as one of the 10 possible policy priorities in Question 1A. The NLGF chose the list of possible policy priorities by carefully analysing the key priorities of LGBT organisations across the country and by examining the body of social science research on the needs of LGBT people that has built up over the past two decades.

    Civil partnerships were raised by a very small number of respondents as their top policy priorities in the open-ended responses in the survey. Civil partnerships were explicitly raised as a key policy issue by only 56 individuals as opposed to 486 repondents that raised the issue of civil marriage rights as their key concern. Less than 3% of people raised civil partnerships as their top concern in the open-ended responses and when the weighting of question 4A is taken into account, civil partnerships registered as the 12th priority of LGBT people in the qualitative questions in the survey. Alternatively civil marriage rights/marriage equality was overwhelmingly raised at the 1st concern of people in the open-ended questions, with 25% of them designating it as their key concern.

    Marriage equality is defined within the research report as “extending the institution of civil marriage, beyond heterosexuals, so that lesbian and gay people can avail of the right to marry their same-sex partner and enter the instiution of marriage”.

    In the analysis of the qualitative answers, the responses of any person that referred to civil marriage, marriage equality, wrote the word marriage in their response or was critical of civil partnership as opposed to civil marriage, were labelled as “marriage equality”.

    The responses of any person that referred to civil partnerships, civil unions, or who explicitly preferred civil partnership rights provision to the provision of marriage rights were categorised as “civil partnership rights”.

    There was a third category created in the analysis with the title of “legal recognition of LGBT relationships in general” for respondents that referred to need for legal recognition of LGBT relationships but who made no reference to marriage or civil partnerships and did not express a preference for either of the 2 main policy options that are currently being debated within the LGBT community and in wider society.

    More information on this is available in the discussion of the qualitative questions in the research report on pages 24 to 27 and in the appendix which explains the methodology that was used for analysing the qualitative questions.

    The Burning Issues research report can be downloaded at

    Ciarán Ó hUltacháin, report co-author and NLGF Board

  • Maman Poulet

    So I was right – the survey didn’t ask about about partnership rights…

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