Senior officials from three key groups behind the yes campaign outlined the next steps in what they have stressed is an equality drive wider than same sex-marriage at a press conference in response to the decision to amend the Constitution.
Speaking to reporters in Dublin, representatives of Yes Equality, Marriage Equality, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, and the Gay and Lesbian Network expressed their gratitude to the entire country for the 62% yes vote.
However, with a general election just around the corner and political parties seeking to “reap the rewards”, they said now was the time to push for similar progress on other issues.
“I am very proud this campaign was headlined by equality, but we have unfinished business. We still have legalised discrimination of LGBT teachers in schools with a religious ethos, that needs to be amended,” said ICCL executive director Mark Kelly.
Section 37 of the Equal Status Acts allows for religious-run schools to effectively ban gay teachers if it is felt their personal life contradicts the facility’s ethos, a situation teacher unions have consistently warned is discriminatory.
The unrelated transgender recognition bill which is going through the Oireachtas is based on a warning Ireland is in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights as it does not recognise the new identities of people who have undergone gender reassignment. While campaigners say progress has been made, they believe the current wording will still discriminate.
Speaking at the same press conference, campaigners noted the “momentous” events of this weekend, with campaign co-director Brian Sheehan saying it has “reshaped forever the Republic in which we live”.
GLEN chair Kieran Rose said young gay people who may be “isolated or bullied” in school “now know 1.2m people have voted to back them up” and noted the view is not limited to “liberal” parts of Dublin.
He said the public vote “is a fantastic beacon of hope to countries that are now what we were like in the 1970s and 1980s” and that Ireland can become a world leader on equal rights.
The Yes Equality event also revealed statistics underlining the scope of the successful campaign.
In recent weeks the organisation erected 5,000 posters, handed out half a million Tá/Yes badges, leafleted 1.1m homes, and drove its “Yes bus” 11,000km.
In addition, the campaign reached 11m people on Facebook and Twitter, while its 150 YouTube videos have been viewed 1m times.
Separately, a small sample of votes by the Union of Students in Ireland will today indicate Friday saw the highest referendum turnout of young people to vote in the history of the State.
Despite the Constitutional change receiving widespread global backing, at least one group was unhappy with the decision. Westboro Baptist Church, a 39-member group from Kansas in the US which gained infamy for holding signs saying “God hates fags”, said Ireland is now led by “dogs” and has become a “cesspool of corruption”.
The group, which is widely discredited due to its extreme views, said heterosexual Irish people “are the soul-condemning enablers” of gay and lesbian people after Friday’s vote.