Why is Pride important? The short answer is that Pride is about:
- Express yourself
- Chance to meet people of similar interests
- A developing concept/movement
The longer answer is more complex.
Pride is about social inclusion. Pride is a celebration of our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Asexual (LGBT+) community. It is a time for straight allies to show their support for their LGBT+ family, friends and colleagues. Pride is about acceptance for all LGBT+ people within themselves, their communities and society as a whole.
Social inclusion, family and a sense of community are as vital for LGBT+ people as they are for straight people, yet these things remain under attack for LGBT+ people.
In June 2018, the theme of Dublin Pride was ‘We Are Family’. This was a direct response to Catholic Church’s ‘World Meeting of Families’, which was taking place in Dublin in August 2018. Ahead of Pope Francis’ appearance at ‘The World Meeting of Families’, photographs identifying same-sex couples were redacted from promotional material related to the event.
Ireland is one of the only countries in the EU that does not have hate crimes legislation. As a result, there are no statistics accessible to the public on hate crimes against people in the LGBT+ community or attacks based on xenophobia and racism. Pride is important as it gives the community a chance to come together and celebrate in a safe space where people will accept who they are.
Ireland took a significant step in 2015 by becoming the first country in the world to introduce marriage equality based on a referendum. Marriage equality became legal in Northern Ireland in 2019, with the first same-sex marriages taking place in February 2020.
Yet, same-sex families are still not recognised fully by the State. At present, only one parent is legally recognised while the other parent is considered a legal stranger. This undermines LGBT+ families and forces LGBT+ people to classify themselves as lone-parents, when applying for a passport or children’s allowance, even though they are not.
Ireland is due to pass legislation later this year, which will recognise two women as legal parents or guardians where their child was conceived in an Irish fertility clinic using an identifiable donor. While this is obviously a huge step in the right direction, it will not include parental rights for LGBT+ men and their families or parental rights in cases of adoption or surrogacy.
Having a sense of belonging and acceptance within your community is vital for our wellbeing and mental health. Research from BeLonGTo Youth Services shows that young members of the LGBT+ community are reluctant to open up about their mental health challenges. Five years on from the success of a ‘Yes’ vote for marriage equality, 90% of LGBT+ young people believe their struggle with mental health is on-going. Nearly half (49%) of LGBT+ youth surveyed feel reluctant to open up about their mental health due to the perceived expectations that they should feel happy in a post-marriage-referendum Ireland.
Pride is our opportunity to highlight the continuing issues facing our LGBT+ community. We have made great gains in the fight for LGBT+ equality in recent years, yet there is much more to do in terms of rights and social inclusion. The voices of LGBT+ people must be heard.
Pride is both a protest at these injustices and a cultural event that brings the LGBT+ community together to celebrate what makes us diverse as people in our hometowns.