LivingTravelGay travel in Ireland

Gay travel in Ireland

Given the country’s sometimes old-fashioned reputation, it’s normal to wonder about the status of Gay Travel in Ireland. For anyone in the LGBT community, the classic image of Ireland as a very religious and generally quite conservative country may not bode well for travel plans. But take heart: traveling in Ireland is generally smooth, whatever your sexual orientation or identification, as long as you are as safety conscious as you would be in any foreign city or country. Ireland has become a much more gay-friendly country with the passage of the 34th Amendment referendum that amended Ireland’s Constitution to allow same-sex marriage in 2015.

Although in general, it might make sense to adopt a low profile in more rural areas.

Gay Ireland – A Complicated History

Despite the high national esteem for the poet Oscar Wilde, the actor Mícheál Mac Liammóir or the nationalist Roger Casement, homosexuals and especially homosexual men were not historically celebrated or widely accepted in the even more recent history of Ireland. As a result, the LGBT community has been used to living in the closet a lot.

In the mid-1970s, both the Irish Gay Rights Movement and the Northern Ireland Gay Rights Association began their fight against discrimination and law reform. The Hirschfeld Center, a lesbian and gay community center on Dublin’s Fownes Street, became the focus of activities after its official opening on St. Patrick’s Day 1979. David Norris, a Joyce expert, activist for gay rights and senator, started legal struggles. But it was only in 1993 that male homosexuality (or rather ‘arguing between people’) was decriminalized in Ireland.

Then, in 2015, Ireland passed an amendment to the constitution by popular referendum to recognize same-sex marriage.

Attitudes towards homosexuality in Ireland

Ireland today prides itself on being an inclusive and non-discriminatory society, which essentially means that being gay is no longer a crime in itself and that you can openly follow your sexual orientation. Unfortunately this does not imply acceptance by all Irish citizens. In some circles, homosexuality is still considered sinful and / or an aberration, even a disease.

On the other hand, the LGBT community has settled in Ireland and no longer feels the need to live in hiding, for more information on Ireland’s gay scene, see below. But keep in mind that this is a fairly recent development and most openly gay Irish are young. The older generation often prefers to stay in the closet.

While discrimination against people who identify as LGBT is officially frowned upon, it still exists. Overt displays of same-sex affection in many places will at least raise their eyebrows and gay men asking for a double room may suddenly find the B&B too crowded. Openly gay couples can also attract sarcastic, rude, insulting, or downright threatening comments in pubs. Fortunately, most assaults stop at the verbal stage.

However, as a sign of changing times and wider acceptance, Ireland elected its first openly gay head of state in 2017. Leo Eric Varadkar became the fourth openly gay world leader.

The gay scene in Ireland

Today Ireland has a lively ‘gay scene’, especially in Dublin and Belfast. Some favorite places like the “George” in Dublin are clearly identifiable by the use of the rainbow flag, others are much more discreet. The best bet for visitors who want to meet other gay people is to get a copy of GCN, Gay Community News, a monthly magazine with full listings.

Marriage Equality and Happiness Pantyhose

In 2015, Ireland became the first country in the world to achieve marriage equality by popular demand: a hotly contested referendum decided henceforth to call all unions between two consenting adults, regardless of the sexes involved. And Ireland also won an openly gay Health Minister in the same year (Leo Varadkar had his appearance on national radio in January and is now Prime Minister). In 2016, prominent lesbian activist Katherine Zappone was appointed Minister of Children and Youth Affairs.

Who would have thought it just twenty years ago?

The Pantibar run by Panti Bliss (the stage name of Rory O’Neill, Ireland’s most public drag queen, though not always popular) on Dublin’s Northside (Capel Street, Dublin 1, website has become at a meeting point for many of the more outgoing members of the LGBT community, while The George is the best-known and well-established gay pub across the river (89 South Great George’s Street, Dublin 2, website ).

What about homophobia in Ireland?

Yes, there is still homophobia in Ireland, and some very open and concerned citizens can make LGBT visitors less welcome with the usual taunts and insults, openly or in a more disguised way. Homophobic attacks are also not unheard of, so keep in mind that while Ireland in general should be viewed as a ‘safe’ destination, it may experience some negativity from the less enlightened substratum of society.

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