Record numbers of young people come out in first year since historic YES vote

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New research released yesterday (22nd May) by BeLonG To, the National LGBT+Youth organisation, has revealed an enormous surge out of the closet for LGBT+ young people in Ireland following the marriage referendum last year.

Over half (53%) of all respondents to a survey of over 1,300 14-23 year olds of all sexualities and gender identities across Ireland say they know someone who has come out for the first time since the referendum a year ago.

39% of those respondents who identify as LGBT+ said they spoke to someone for the first time about their sexuality because of the confidence the YES vote gave them.

However, the findings show that 62% agree that those who have just come out as LGBT+ don’t know where to turn for help and support and 61% of all young people surveyed want to see improvements to their mental health. This demonstrates a serious lack of support for LGBT+ young people when they first come out plus their straight allies wanting improvements made to mental health service provision.

The report also shows a huge disparity between the experiences of heterosexual young people and those of LGBT+ young people. The historic YES vote has created a mistaken impression among some heterosexual young people that life is better for LGBT+ young people now, when this research proves this is not the case.

31% of heterosexual young people believe that equality for LGBT+ people has been achieved and we should move on to other issues. In comparison only 7% of LGBT+ young people believe we have achieved equality and believe we should move on.

The report shows that while the historic YES vote was a milestone in LGBT+ rights, there is still an enormous amount of work to do to make the lives of LGBT+ children and young people better, and safer. 56% of all young people agree that homophobic or transphobic bullying has not stopped since the referendum.

Of those respondents that identify as LGBT+, 55% say their daily life hasn’t changed much since the referendum and 35% agree that the marriage referendum helped LGBT adults but not them.

Moninne Griffith, Executive Director of BeLonG To commented:

“History was made when the Irish people said yes to marriage equality a year ago. But there is more work to do to achieve the Ireland we voted for last May. It is about equality in our everyday lives, it is about a change in our culture. We celebrate along with the happy couples who have benefited from marriage equality so far this year and their families and friends. However, we know from the young people we work with everyday, that sadly their daily lives are broadly unaffected by the referendum. They are still experiencing bullying, isolation, mental health issues and are struggling without the right support. We need to keep saying YES to young people who need support services and make sure those services are well funded.”

Frances Fitzgerald, Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality stated:

“I stand proud of the Irish people who came together and voted with their hearts last summer and changed Ireland forever. We took an extraordinary step forward for justice and equality for all citizens. However, we cannot assume that equality has been achieved and the job is done. While the future is secured, the present can still be a frightening place for LGBT+ young people. We need to keep saying YES to supporting young LGBT+ people.”

Katherine Zappone, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs added:

“The YES result last year was an amazing achievement, but we must not rest on our laurels. There is so much more work to be done to make Ireland a better place to grow up LGBT+. As the newly appointed Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, I look forward to working closely with BeLonG To to help deliver the LGBT Youth Strategy committed to in the programme for Government.”

Other findings:


  • 31% of all respondents want better sexual and reproductive health

  • 27% want improvements in their experiences of violence and hate speech

  • 59% agreed that asking people for the same rights as them was difficult

  • 62% agree they heard hurtful comments about LGBT+ people during the campaigning

  • Less than 2% of LGBT+ young people got engaged or married since the referendum

  • 49% of LGBT+ young people feel more confidence since the referendum

  • BeLonG To is the national organisation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT+) young people, aged between 14 and 23.

  • Donations can be made securely online via

    • €21 provides an action pack to a teacher. This allows them to work to eliminate homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying from their classroom so LGBT+ young people have more positive experiences growing up.

    • €40 provides one support session. Many LGBT+ young people arrived at our door in crisis, these one-to-one support sessions are a vital lifeline to these young people.

    • €200 will help keep a rural LGBT+ youth service open so that LGBT+ young people can access the support they need close to home.

A nationally representative sample of 1,361 young people aged between 14 and 23 were surveyed online in May 2016.

BeLonG To is the national organisation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT+) young people, aged between 14 and 23.


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The new LGBT magazine; available online, for download and on podcast. It's time for another view.
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