Cultural Revolutions

Extravagant Abandon

On May 22, the Irish people voted by a large majority to permit marriages between two men or two women.  Of the two million people who voted—a 60-percent turnout—62 percent supported same-sex “marriage.”  It had been a very one-sided contest, with all the major political parties urging their supporters to vote yes.

Only 22 years ago, homosexual activity, even in private, was a criminal offense in the Republic of Ireland.  Now homosexuals are protected, almost celebrated, with laws banning any form of discrimination and “hate speech” against them.  The changes began in 1983 when David Norris, a homosexual, noted literary scholar, and a member of the Church of Ireland, brought a case in the Irish courts saying that the criminal law infringed his right to privacy.  When the Irish Supreme Court turned him down, he took his case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), since Ireland was a signatory to the European Human Rights Convention.  The lawyers representing the Irish government argued that the ban on homosexual behavior was a necessary expression of the overwhelmingly Catholic nature of Irish society, even though the laws had actually been enacted before Ireland became independent.  This argument did not convince the European judges, and they ruled that the criminal law of Ireland was contrary to an individual’s right to privacy and to make free choices. ...

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