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social sciences

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The case arose when Dr. Lydia Foy, a dentist who was registered at birth as male, requested a new birth certificate showing her sex as male. After thirteen years of litigation, her right to a new birth certificate was finally recognized.

Civil Partnership Bill

The goal to provide legal recognition of same-sex couples also finally came to fruition in 2010. Several events helped propel the eventual adoption of a civil partnership bill.

Sponsor Message.

With the adoption of same-sex marriage by such European countries as the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Norway, Sweden, and Portugal, and of registered partnerships or civil partnerships by most other Western European countries, including the United Kingdom, Ireland was on the verge of becoming isolated in Europe for its failure to extend equal rights to gay and lesbian couples.

In addition, the country was rocked by a number of scandals involving the abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests and nuns. These scandals weakened the moral authority of the Church and enabled politicians to work for social justice without worrying about political pushback from the Church.

In the first decade of the twenty-first century several proposals were floated to recognize gay and lesbian couples, from marriage to civil unions and domestic partnerships. Senator David Norris was the foremost spokesperson for marriage.

In 2009 and 2010, concrete proposals for a civil partnership bill were developed and refined. The bill that was finally signed into law on July 19, 2010, provides a wide range of protections, rights, and obligations for same-sex couples in areas such as pensions, taxes, social welfare, domestic violence, inheritance, and joint tenancy. It grants all the rights and responsibilities of marriage except the right to adopt children.

The bill, modeled on the U.K.'s civil partnership legislation, was, despite opposition from the Roman Catholic Church, passed without a vote in the Dàil and with an overwhelming majority in the Seanad at the beginning of July. It went into effect on January 1, 2011.

After it was signed into law by the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern described the civil partnership bill as "one of the most important pieces of civil rights legislation to be enacted since independence," adding that "Ireland will be a better place for its enactment."

Linda Rapp

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social sciences >> Overview:  Adoption

Although there are frequently social and legal barriers to overcome, adoption is an important way in which lesbian and gay male couples create families.

social sciences >> Overview:  Compulsory Heterosexuality

Compulsory heterosexuality is the assumption that women and men are innately attracted to each other emotionally and sexually and that heterosexuality is universal, a view that leads to an institutional inequality of power that privileges heterosexual males and denigrates women, especially lesbians.

social sciences >> Overview:  Domestic Partnerships

"Domestic partnership" is the generic term for a variety of forms of legal and institutional recognition of same-sex couples that fall short of same-sex marriage.

social sciences >> Overview:  Homophobia

Homophobia was originally defined as a "dread of being in close quarters with homosexuals," but it is now sometimes used to describe any form of anti-gay bias.

social sciences >> Overview:  Immigration Law

Those countries that allow the immigration of glbtq persons based on persecution in their home countries often raise difficulties or apply the existing laws inequitably, especially in the case of glbtq couples who apply for entry as domestic partners.

social sciences >> Overview:  Parades and Marches

Both parades and marches have served to render the glbtq community visible; whereas marches typically attempt to effect political change, parades and pride events affirm identity and community.

social sciences >> Overview:  Roman Catholicism

Historically, the Roman Catholic Church may be the institution most responsible for the suffering of individuals involved in same-sex sexual relationships.

social sciences >> Overview:  United Kingdom I: The Middle Ages through the Nineteenth Century

The United Kingdom has a rich and vibrant legacy of queer cultural expression despite a long history of severe legal sanctions against male-male sexual acts and other manifestations of sexual and gender deviance.

literature >> Butler, Lady Eleanor, (1739-1829) and Sarah Ponsonby (1755-1831)

Known as the Ladies of Llangollen, an enduring emblem of female romantic friendship, Butler and Ponsonby eloped to Wales where they lived together for over fifty years and entertained several important writers.

social sciences >> Casement, Roger

Irish patriot Roger Casement was executed by the British, who also used his diaries to expose him as a homosexual.

social sciences >> European Commission on Human Rights / European Court of Human Rights

The European Commission on Human Rights was the first international human rights organization to condemn homophobia; the European Court of Human Rights, which replaced the Commission, has also helped enforce glbtq rights.

social sciences >> The Labouchère Amendment

The Labouchère Amendment criminalized all sexual contact between men in Great Britain in 1885 and remained on the books until 1967.

social sciences >> Norris, David

Literary scholar and senator, David Norris is Ireland's most effective advocate of glbtq rights.

literature >> O'Brien, Kate

The popular and critically acclaimed Irish playwright and novelist Kate O'Brien includes lesbian characters and relationships in some of her novels.

literature >> Sappho

Admired through the ages as one of the greatest lyric poets, the ancient Greek writer Sappho is today esteemed by lesbians around the world as the archetypal lesbian and their symbolic mother.

social sciences >> Stonewall Riots

The confrontations between police and demonstrators at the Stonewall Inn in New York City the weekend of June 27-29, 1969 mark the beginning of the modern glbtq movement for equal rights.

social sciences >> Suicide

In addition to the general risk factors for suicide, such as depression and substance abuse, glbtq people also face stressors such as discrimination and harassment, which put them at an increased risk for suicidal behavior.

literature >> Wilde, Oscar

Oscar Wilde is important both as an accomplished writer and as a symbolic figure who exemplified a way of being homosexual at a pivotal moment in the emergence of gay consciousness.


Dublin Lesbian and Gay Men's Collectives. Out for Ourselves: The Lives of Irish Lesbians & Gay Men. Dublin: Dublin Lesbian and Gay Men's Collectives and Womens [sic] Community Press, 1986.

Hogan, Steve, and Lee Hudson. "Ireland." Completely Queer: The Gay and Lesbian Encyclopedia.. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1998. 301-302.

Holland, Mary. "They're Here, They're Queer--And Now They're Legal." The Irish Times (July 1, 1993): 10.

Ingle, Roisin. "Say It Loud: I'm Gay and Proud." The Irish Times (July 5, 2003): 54.

Murray, Helen, and Rachel Andrews. "Gay Ireland: Out But Still Outcast." Sunday Tribune (Dublin) (July 6, 2003): 9.

Norris, David. "Decriminalising Homosexual Acts an Historic Event." The Irish Times (June 25, 1993): 12.

O'Carroll, Íde, and Eoin Collins, eds. Lesbian and Gay Visions of Ireland: Towards the Twenty-first Century. London: Cassell, 1995.

O'Toole, Tina. "Ireland." Lesbian Histories and Cultures: An Encyclopedia. Bonnie Zimmerman, ed. New York: Garland, 2000. 402-403.

Rose, Kieran. Diverse Communities: The Evolution of Lesbian and Gay Politics in Ireland. Cork: Cork University Press, 1994.

Walshe, Éibhear. "Ireland." Gay Histories and Cultures: An Encyclopedia. George E. Haggerty, ed. New York: Garland, 2000. 475-77.

_____, ed. Sex, Nation, and Dissent in Irish Writing. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997.


    Citation Information
    Author: Rapp, Linda  
    Entry Title: Ireland  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated August 10, 2011  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  


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