The new Seanad (the upper house of the Irish Parliament) met yesterday for the first time, and includes three openly LGBT Senators and other strong advocates of equality for LGBT people, including former Minister for Equality, Aodhán Ó Riordáin.
“We offer our congratulations to Senator Jerry Buttimer and Senator Fintan Warfield on being elected to the Seanad and Senator David Norris on being re-elected. They have all been passionate and articulate advocates of equality for LGBT people and their election to the Seanad reinforces the strong message that LGBT people can aspire to achieve national political office in Ireland” says Margot Slattery, GLEN co-Chair.
“The new Seanad also includes many strong supporters of equality for LGBT people, both re-elected Senators and newly elected Senators, very many of whom campaigned actively for a yes vote in the Referendum last year. In particular, we congratulate new Senator Aodhán O’Ríordáin who as Minister for Equality in the last Government played a critical role in removing discrimination against LGBT teachers, in the marriage referendum and in advancing equality for LGBT people. The Programme for Government commits to foster greater equality and empowerment of LGBT young people, and to address barriers to inclusion and remaining discrimination against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity. This Oireachtas now has a real opportunity to build on the phenomenal progress of the last year and make further transformative strides towards equality for LGBT people. Real challenges remain, in particular to the mental health and well-being of LGBTI people, including LGBTI young people, as the recent The LGBTIreland Report outlined. Action is needed across all areas of Government to address these urgent challenges” said Slattery.
The LGBTIreland Report, published in March, is the national study on the mental health and well being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people. It illustrated the significant challenges still faced by LGBTI people, in particular, young LGBTI people.
“We look forward to working with the Taoiseach, the Government and all members of the Dáil and Seanad, including the newly elected LGBT members, to ensure that this next few years brings about a permanent change in the lives of this and future generations of LGBT people” Slattery concluded.