On Thursday, October 25, University of Limerick’s (UL) Law Society held its first annual LGBT+ Rights Conference.
The event was set up to provide “a socially engaged platform for the exchange of ideas in a country that has moved from a community of identity to communities of identity,” explained Dr Shane Kilcommins, UL Law Department.
It featured numerous keynote speakers ranging from prominent LGBT+ activists to experts in the field of LGBT+ law.
National LGBT+ (NXF) Board Member Adam Long noted the rapid progress of LGBT+ acceptance in Ireland but criticised some current laws: “We stand virtually alone in Europe regarding hate crime legislation. Incitement to hatred is often conflated with hate crime but we need clearer, tougher hate crime laws.
“LGBT+ visibility is important however the flip-side of that is that anti-LGBT+ advocates become more incited,” he added.
Bi+ Ireland member Sharon Nolan spoke about how certain LGBT+ communities are often excluded from the wider LGBT+ narrative.
Reflecting on the media coverage of the 2015 Marriage Equality Referendum, Ms Nolan said: “If you start stripping away the narrative part played by bisexual and transgender in these campaigns you exclude a huge voice and that simply isn’t fair.”
Senior Lecturer at Maynooth University Dr Fergus Ryan focused his speech on the rights of transgender people in Ireland.
“Ireland is very much leading the way in Europe regarding transgender rights, especially regarding the approach to biological self-determination in our legislation,” he said.
The Gender Recognition Act of 2015 allows legal gender changes without the requirement of medical intervention or assessment by the state, once the person concerned is over 18 years of age.
“The price of such freedoms is the need for eternal vigilance. Don’t take these rights for granted,” Dr Ryan added.
The event was organised as a collaboration between UL Law Society and OutinUL (UL’s LGBT+ society).