17 May 2007
The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) is marking International Day against Homophobia today (Thursday 17th May) by calling on the Irish Government to oppose the stigmatising of gay people by laws and judicial decisions in Ireland and abroad.
Poland is one "particularly troubling" example of an EU government that condones the denigration of gay and lesbian people by legal means, said USI, adding:
"The Irish Government must condemn homophobic laws in other countries - and set the example by fixing discriminatory laws here at home."
There is a link between discriminatory laws, the prejudice they foster and the incidence of hate crimes, according to equality campaigners 1.
USI gay and lesbian spokesperson Steve Conlon said: "Students' message on Idaho Day is for the Polish ambassador in Dublin, Dr Tadeusz Szumowski, and every member of the Irish Government. Discriminatory laws stigmatise gay and lesbian people, fostering prejudices that can be linked to hate crimes.
"The Polish Government is sanctioning prejudice against gay people through the law and the law-courts. Irish Ministers must fiercely condemn this and refuse to accept the Polish Government's stance.
"As well as facing down discrimination overseas, today we call on the Irish Government to recognise the rights of gay and lesbian people at home. Laws that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation are broken and need fixing. Whether in Ireland or abroad, the social consequences of discriminatory laws are terribly damaging."
USI President Colm Hamrogue added: "Ending prejudice will be a genuine concern for Irish voters at the ballot box next week. Fair-minded voters will want to recognise candidates with a record of opposing legal discrimination and fighting for legal equality."
Note to editors:
1 Ministers in the UK have acknowledged the link between discriminatory laws, the prejudice they foster, and hate crimes, reports Stonewall, the anti-homophobia organisation. See: 'Repeal Section 28 hits the road' www.france.qrd.org/assocs/ilga/euroletter/74.html
2 In more than 70 countries being gay is still a crime. See the IDAHO website: www.idahomophobia.org