Essay about Gay Rights in Ireland

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The Republic of Ireland has a complicated relationship with contemporary human rights laws that many western nation-states have been setting the precedent for, for quite some time. The Republic of Ireland prides itself on its strong Catholic roots, and indeed the adherence to what is essentially Catholic law. Ireland has a unique history that has seemed to act as both an enabler and an explanation as to why for a ‘western country’ it has been able to remain “about twenty years behind the west” (Hug 2001:26). In this essay I would like to focus on homosexual rights and discuss how the laws are changing in Ireland. I want to first focus on the precedent set by the history of law-making and interpreting in Ireland, and then following Ireland’s evolution in gay rights engage in a discussion about religion and secularism as they pertain to Ireland. I will discuss the current legal debate raging between teachers and the Irish government and what activists groups are doing to try to move legislation forward for more equal rights. This essay will culminate in an analysis of whether the Republic of Ireland is trending toward a more secular democratic future, why that may be, and what implications that has other human rights in Ireland.
Chrystel Hug asserts in her 2001 article that “the ‘catholicization’ of Irish law was almost spontaneous. William T. Cosgrave’s showed an eagerness…to use the powers of the state to protect Catholic moral values” (26). Irish law used natural law, as endorsed by the Catholic Church, and majoritariansim to justify the legislation in regards to sexual morality, which includes homosexuality, prostitution, abortion, and contraceptive use; arguing that they would be made or remain illegal because they r...

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Gay+Lesbian Equality Network. Brian Sheehan, Director. “Education Issues: LGB teachers” 15 April 2012. Atlantic Philanthropies. 15 April 2012.

Haider-Markel, Donald P. and Kenneth J. Meier (1996) “Politics of Gay and Lesbian Rights: Expanding the scope of conflict.” The Journal of Politics 58 (2): 332-349. Stable URL:

Hefner, Robert W. Review of Asad, Talal, Formations of the Secular: Christianity, Islam,Modernity. H-Gender-MidEast, H-Net Reviews. March, 2004.
Hug, Chrystel (2001) “Moral Order and the Liberal Agenda in the Republic of Ireland”. New Hiberna Review 5 (4): 22-41.
Merry, S. (2001) “Changing Rights, Changing Culture.” In Culture and Rights: Anthropological Perspectives. J. Cowan et al, eds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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