Words by Alex Howlett
Art by Bella Spencer
I was talking recently with someone about the legalisation of gay marriage in Ireland, attempting to articulate the point that this was a pleasant surprise coming from a country which is generically very religious and backwards. The person’s more accurate response was that it simply showed ‘human compassion’. Perhaps this is equally telling of the rest of the world, as much as it is also of the progressive attitude Ireland has demonstrated in this instant. Primarily, it highlights the inability of so many nations to accept the right of gay citizens to be granted ‘full citizenship’, as one Irish guy phrased it . It also emphasises the contrast between this example of acceptance and compassion with the outright homophobic attitudes propagated in 79 countries across the world .
However the news which is most saddening comes in the form of the words of a Vatican diplomat, who referred to the legalisation of gay marriage in Ireland as a ‘defeat for humanity’. It seems incomprehensible to me that something which is so clearly a cause of celebration and positivity for so many people could be branded in such an ignorant and debilitating way. Although now agnostic, I was brought up a Catholic and over the years have struggled to maintain a respect for the religion in regards to the general morals which arguably act as its foundation, but it seems impossible to think well of a religion which can uphold harmful and outdated opinions like these.
This is the 21st century. Equal rights are an accepted and expected as part of civilised society and this condemnation is not in correlation with this. In fact, it represents the obsolete nature of so much of the religious world. This was recognised by the Archbishop of Dublin who claimed that ‘It’s very clear there’s a growing gap between Irish young people and the church, and there’s a growing gap between the culture of Ireland that’s developing and the church’.
Looking back to the positive side, despite the negative reaction of one Vatican diplomat, this is a massive win in the name of human compassion. If we’re to take the stance that it is reflective of the dichotomy between the church and young people, let’s be relieved that the future belongs to young people, and thus this progressive and positive attitude can only prevail.