Opinion: LGBT+ people have the power to repeal the 8th amendment

Just three years ago, LGBT+ couples secured the right to get married in the Republic of Ireland.

The referendum, which granted same-sex couples the right to have their relationship legally recognised, was a resounding breakthrough for LGBT+ people in the country.

Now it’s time for women to be given the right to choose what happens with their lives and bodies – and LGBT+ people are pivotal in making that happen.


Women walk past a poster by the Irish socialist feminist and pro-choice activist group ROSA urging a yes vote in the referendum to repeal the eighth amendment of the Irish constitution (Photo by Artur Widak / AFP)

The referendum to repeal the 8th amendment to allow women in the Republic of Ireland to access abortion is hanging in the balance – and LGBT+ people can help women across the nation secure that right.

Throughout history, we’ve been used to those in power creating a societal norm in which to dominate the personal power and decisions of queer people and women alike.

The construction of a capitalist, patriarchal and heteronormative society fails to prioritise the rights of those who are not white, affluent, and male.

Queer people and women haven’t always had this luxury. They’ve had to fight for the right to vote, to exist, and to be given the same rights to their bodies and lives as straight men have.


Kosovo feminist supporters take part in a rally for gender equality and against violence towards women to mark the International Women’s Day in Pristina on March 8, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Armend NIMANI

That’s what makes us natural allies in this debate.

Although no-one should have to be of a certain gender or sexuality to defend a woman’s right to choose, this is an issue for anyone who cares about human rights.

And the parameters around the conversation are not as straightforward as you think.

Trans and non-binary people who may identify as a lesbian can get pregnant, as well as bisexual women.

But it’s not simply who can and can’t get pregnant: it’s an issue that will offer more autonomy to people over what they decide to do with their bodies, and gives women the power to make a decision that will affect the quality of their lives.


Repeal the 8th (Getty)

Repeal the 8th (Getty)

We know how to fight. For most of us, being gay and being an activist goes hand in hand.

We know how to fight for social justice issues, and the queer community more than ever

No matter where you come from, or who you are into, this vote affects everyone.

And we should be the first community out there to know what difference the power of allyship can make.

And according to statistics, 91 percent of LGBT+ people will vote to repeal the 8th amendment.

But just because something doesn’t specifically affect us, it doesn’t mean we should ignore it.


TOPSHOT – A man walks in front of a pro-choice mural urging a yes vote in the referendum to repeal the eighth amendment of the Irish constitution (Photo by Artur Widak / AFP)

Just three years ago, Ireland’s LGBT+ community fought for the right to be married, and to be given the same rights as the straight people of the nation.

And now, women and people who intersect the general understanding of humdrum sexualities and identities need our help too.

As LGBT campaigner and women’s rights activist Ailbhe Smyth says, a woman’s access to an abortion is a socio-sexual issue.

This is about legislating sexual freedom, and expecting that women should pay a price for being sexual beings.


(Photo: rawpixel)

And as a community who has spent our lives conditioned into thinking we have adverse sexualities, this right to that freedom rings more poignant than ever.

We should all have access to the lives that we decide to lead without suffering a lifelong condemnation for doing so.

That’s why I hope that the LGBT+ community offers the resounding support and love I know it’s capable of to repeal the 8th amendment in the Republic of Ireland tomorrow.