At the beginning of this year The Gay Say set out to engage with people on the ground who are now literally crying out for change in Northern Ireland. The stalemate on important issues such as marriage equality at Stormont, endless political theatrics causing crisis after crisis, an enduring obedience to green and orange politics and the ongoing failure by the DUP to recognise LGBTQ human rights has primed people to begin engaging in politics once again.
In conjunction with the LoveProudly campaign for equal marriage in Northern Ireland and with the unwavering support of the worldwide equality platform & social media giant Stop-Homophobia.com we began reaching out to people with the hope of uniting individuals, organisations and communities to bring about change.
Danny Toner, Founder of The Gay Say said:
“Something about this election and this year in particular feels different. It feels as though people’s frustration has reached tipping point and the electorate want change. Stagnant politics has only bred anger. Collectively we decided to tap into these emotions and controversial topics to mobilise people into action and to stand up for change.
“On five separate occasions the LGBTQ+ ‘community’ have watched as the right to have their love recognised as equal under the law has been blocked by the Democratic Unionist Party’s abuse of a parliamentary veto.
“The ‘Petition of Concern’ is being used in a way it was never intended and that is fundamentally wrong and needs to be challenged locally and internationally. 50.5% of Stormont voted in favour of equal marriage at the last vote in November 2015 but the legislation fell because the veto was in place. Political support is only now beginning to reflect the overwhelming support within the general population. Last year, IPSOS Mori and a joint BBC/RTÉ survey revealed 68 and 64% support respectively.
“The ‘#EndTheVeto’ campaign came about to help tackle and challenge the issue of equal marriage. The reality is that the LGBTQ+ community are clearly and unashamedly being oppressed by the DUP in Northern Ireland.
Together with LoveProudly, Elimin8_H8, YesEqualityNI and Stop-homophobia we decided to tackle the issue of marriage equality on several fronts with the overall goal of achieving marriage equality.
First of all we decided to start a petition to give people a voice and an opportunity to have their say and to clearly outline the goals of the campaign. The petition has been growing strong to almost 12,000 supporters.
The LoveProudly campaign went forward with helping voters get registered on time as well as educating and informing the electorate in Northern Ireland about each MLA’s stance on equal marriage. The core message in all of this was that voting for the DUP or anyone opposed to equal marriage would mean a vote against LGBTQ+ human rights.
Several campaign posts have gone viral which has meant that the campaign message is being heard across the world and the support has been incredible. News that same sex marriage licenses would be downgraded to civil partnerships upon entering Northern Ireland has been causing shock for people in places as far away as the USA to those living just a few miles across the border in the Republic.
With the DUP’s promise to continue vetoing the legislation we can only respond accordingly. The Gay Say, Stop-Homophobia, YesEquality Northern Ireland, Elimin8_H8 and LoveProudly will continue to highlight and fight the DUP’s abuse of democracy in pursuit of draconian and dehumanizing social attitudes.
The petition target is 20,000. Plans are taking shape for action if the advice on the petition is ignored.