By Emmet O’Cuana
An Australian Christian lobby group responded to the events of the weekend in Ireland with the following statement “the redefinition of marriage and family in Ireland this weekend is a wake-up call to Australians who value the rights of children”.
Back home over the past few months in the run-up to the vote, the well funded ‘No’ campaign printed posters alledging gay marriage would place children in danger.
Members of The Iona Institute, such as journalist Breda O’Brien, were strongly insistent in the press that a Yes vote would hurt the existential status of the Irish family itself. That for a child to not be raised by differently sexed parents would, in effect, be a form of abuse.
How this did not apply to children raised in Catholic orphanages by nuns since the founding of the State was not addressed.
As it happens, I agree that this referendum was about the rights of children. Unlike the No campaigners though, I saw it as a vote to ensure no child ever had to be afraid again of being treated differently because of who they are.
I believe that the patrons of Iona, a political lobby group that only revoked its charitable status when the referendum campaign was well under way, are afraid. Afraid of a loss of power. Afraid of what it means when Ireland, historically a devoutly Christian country throughout its troubled existence, changes the law so that all its citizens are equal.
I remember what it was like to be afraid. As a young teenager a boy in my class confessed his feelings for me and all I could think was ‘this is wrong’. Everything I had been told meant that he was something wrong.
I am so happy for my friends and loved ones back home who now enjoy the same rights under the law as I do.
Most importantly, I am full of hope that no child will ever have to be afraid again for being judged wrong for who they are, or because they have been taught to fear their friends for being different. Because no religion should teach children hate instead of compassion.