Next week Dominic Hannigan and John Lyons will enter the newly elected Irish government as the first openly gay politicians elected as members of Parliament in Ireland.
Both men are Labor Party candidates. They won their seats in Meath East (Hannigan) and Dublin North West (Lyons).
Hannigan, despite representing a very rural constituency, said his sexuality never came up in the election and people were not worried about it.
Paul McConnell, co-chair of the Labor LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) group said, "History was also made in the election of not one but two openly gay (members) . . . The election of both Dominic Hannigan and John Lyons as (members) for the Labor Party is a step forward for equality in Ireland and we look forward to their contributions in the Dail (Parliament).”
In the past Ireland had openly gay senators and later this year the country could have its first gay president, Senator David Norris, who is a leading candidate to replace outgoing President Mary McAleese.
A push for gay marriage rights is set to begin when the new government takes over .The National Lesbian & Gay Federation (NLGF) has urged the two parties likely to be in government to commit to legislate for civil marriage for same-sex-couples.
NLGF chair Ailbhe Smyth said, “Fine Gael and the Labor Party have a duty to legislate for equal civil marriage rights for lesbian and gay people. Discriminating against lesbian and gay people in this regard is not acceptable”.
Irish public support for equal marriage rights for gays has grown over the last few years, from 51% in October 2006 to 67% in September 2010, according to an “Irish Times” poll. The “Irish Independent” last month published a poll showing that two-thirds of Irish people believe that same sex couples should have the right to marry.
Nine countries now accord same-sex couples access to civil marriage (including, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Sweden and the Netherlands), as well as five U.S. states.