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Social workers back gay marriage

FOLLOWING Declan Cashin’s article on growing up gay in Ireland (June 24), the Questions & Answers programme on RTÉ last Monday night and pride festivals in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Belfast, the Irish Association of Social Workers (IASW) repeats its call for full marriage equality for gay and lesbian relationships.

Social workers have a long and proud tradition of working in support of the rights of people marginalised in society and for anyone who is not treated as an equal.

One of the groups not treated as equals in Irish society — the gay community — marked the 25th year of gay pride parades last Saturday with a celebratory parade through the centre of Dublin, undaunted by the wind and rain.

‘Always the Bridesmaid, never the Bride’ was the theme of this year’s Dublin gay pride festival, which celebrated the diversity and spirit of Dublin’s gay community. Cork, Galway and Belfast will also host their own gay pride festivals over the coming weeks.

A lot has changed in the 25 years since the first Dublin gay pride parade, but some fundamental rights are still denied to gay and lesbian people in this country. Declan Cashin was right in his article headlined ‘Legislation can change laws, but not hearts and minds’.

However, legislative changes can and do lead to changes in hearts and minds, not all at once perhaps, but over time.

At the Irish Association of Social Workers AGM in April, we passed a motion supporting the Government’s intention to legislate for gay and lesbian relationships and calling on it to implement without delay legislation for full marriage equality.

We again urge the Government to honour its own programme and legislate for equality on this issue immediately. Such long overdue action would enable gay and lesbian couples to declare in public their commitment to each other in their own civil marriage while taking on the full rights and responsibilities that are afforded to heterosexual couples.

Declan Coogan

Spokesperson

Irish Association of Social Workers (IASW)

114-116 Pearse Street

Dublin 2


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