As Pride celebrations approach this weekend, it is important to reflect on the legal position of LGBTQ+ individuals across the globe today.
Despite LGBTQ+ rights being more protected in recent years, 25% of the world’s population still believes that being LGBTQ+ should be a crime.
As of June 2023, 64 UN member States criminalise consensual same-sex sexual acts, with 11 countries worldwide enforcing the death penalty for LGBTQ+ crimes.
These statistics are a stark reminder that the fight for equal rights continues.
While Ireland may seem like a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community, the reality is very different.
A recent study found that 53% of Irish LGBTQ+ couples reported feeling unsafe showing affection to one another in public, with over 50% saying they would feel unsafe holding hands with their partners.
Feeling unsafe begins at an early age as a 2019 report found that 73% of Irish LGBTQ+ students feel unsafe at school, with 86% feeling isolated by other students.
ILGA Europe’s Rainbow Report 2023 ranked Ireland 16th in Europe for the protection of LGBTQ+ rights with an overall score of only 54% for achieving LGBTQ+ human rights. Ireland’s lack of hate crime legislation was cited as a key reason for its low ranking.
Sadly, in Ireland, if a person is attacked due to their sexual orientation, their perpetrator cannot currently be charged with a hate crime and instead will be prosecuted under the umbrella term of assault.
While judges may take the motivation of the attack into account, the absence of such legislation leaves victims of LGBTQ+ hate crimes without a legal avenue that criminalises the specific pain they have endured.
The Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences) Bill was proposed in November 2022. However, this Bill is yet to be signed into law, despite Gardai reporting a 29% increase in hate crime reports.
In April 2023 two men, Aidan Moffitt and Michael Snee, were murdered in the space of 24 hours in two separate suspected homophobic attacks in the town of Sligo. Their tragic deaths demonstrate the often-unseen reality of LGBTQ+ individual’s lives in Ireland and the urgent need for criminal reform.
This week the Irish Government announced plans to ban conversion therapy and quash the historical convictions of gay men engaging in consensual sexual activity. While this news is welcome, plans are not enough. Adequate hate crime legislation must be enacted urgently in tandem with comprehensive training to ensure it is properly implemented.
The Irish legislature must make these necessary reforms to make Ireland a safe space for LGBTQ+ individuals and signal to the world that discrimination is not welcome in 2023.
- Campaigning for global LGBT equality | Stonewall
- Criminalisation of consensual same-sex sexual acts | ILGA World Database
- 2019-06-28_l-rs-infographic-lgbt-community-in-ireland-a-statistical-profile_en.pdf (oireachtas.ie)
- School Climate Survey 2022 – BeLonG To
- ILGA Europe’s Rainbow Report 2023- Rainbow Europe (rainbow-europe.org)
- Hate crime reports to gardaí rose by 29% last year – The Irish TimesCriminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences) Bill 2022 – No. 105 of 2022 – Houses of the Oireachtas
- Sligo murders: Hate motive investigated in two killings – BBC News
- Ireland and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – Submission to the Human Rights Committee on Ireland’s 5th Periodic Report – IHREC – Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission