Equality. But not for all.

Posted: April 23, 2015 in news
Tags: , , , , , , ,
samuel l equality

Note: the below blogpost pertains to the upcoming Irish constitutional referendum.

We’ve seen them all, those lovely visual messages produced by the “yes” campaign in the upcoming marriage referendum. Images of people of different and the same race, sexuality and walks of life hugging and high-fiving each other in a visual extravaganza of being “all about the love”. One would be hard pressed to object. After all who would not support equality and love?
Well as it happens it’s the “yes” side who do not support equality. Especially pertains to equality of law and equality of freedom of expression.
Take the example of the recently erected (pardon my French) mural on Georges Street in Dublin. The multi-story mural depicts two men embracing. No problem with that. The artist responsible for the mural, Joe Caslin, has publicly stated that the mural is on support of a “Yes” vote in the upcoming referendum. Again, perfectly fine and something that should be allowed. However, and here is the problem, murals like that require planning permission. Especially if they broadcast a political message supporting one side in an upcoming constitutional referendum. It’s similar to election posters, the public display of which is tightly regulated with substantial fines being levied for breaches.  It comes as no surprise then that the Planning Enforcement section of Dublin City Council has issued a statement that “the mural is under investigation and Section 152 Warning Letter has issued in relation to mural.”.
Did the “yes” side think that they were exempt of the applicable legislation?
Well apparently they do! Following the news that Dublin City Council is enforcing the existing legislation the “yes” side has started an petition demanding that the mural in question be made exempt from the applicable legislation. So clearly, one law for us and another for everyone else. Ironically, at the same time they are caterwauling about the message on the poster from the “no” campaign.
Posters which it’s worth noting are displayed legally and which are not in breach of *any* regulations. They have even gone as far as tearing down posters (posting pictures of this on Twitter).
Clear and obvious proof that a fair referendum where the electorate can cast an informed vote is not something which they desire. This is not a unique phenomenon, if we look at other countries or jurisdictions we will see that the introduction of legislation similar to the proposed constitutional amendment has across the board lead to a reduction in civil liberties and freedom of speech. The main difference in Ireland would be that if the referendum returns a majority yes vote such a reduction in civil liberties and freedom of speech would be enshrined in our constitution.
That’s why we should ask ourselves, is granting a tiny minority (gay people make up less than 3% of the population) their wishes worth the loss of civil liberties and freedom of speech for all of us?
  1. The law should apply equally to all so if that mural is illegal, it should come down. I am curious though as to which liberties and freedoms you mean we will lose if the referendum is passed. By definition, every single law is a restriction of liberties and freedoms.

    Do you mean that some things you might wish to say or do will become illegal to say or do? I can only imagine that these would be things considered to be discriminatory on the grounds of sexual orientation or family status?

    Of course, you would still be free to say or do these things in contravention of the law – but you couldn’t expect to avoid the consequences.

    • evertb says:

      Paraic, I don’t think the mural will or should come down. The warning letter has been sent and they have 4 weeks to apply by which time the referendum will be over.
      What bugs me is that in addition to the planning laws that the regulations regarding campaign posters also apply here.
      But a lot of people on the “Yes” side think the whole thing should be exempt because it’s beautiful or something.
      I am sure they would not be as tolerant if it was a mural supporting a “No” vote and *that* is my main issue.

      As regards to the loss of liberties and freedoms I can recommend reading a blogpost which I put up a few weeks ago: https://evertb.wordpress.com/2015/03/05/same-sex-marriage-and-the-end-of-freedom-of-speech/

      The ongoing removal of “No” campaign posters is a good example of what I am referring to.

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