Essay on Gay Rights in Ireland

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The Republic of Ireland has a complicated relationship with contemporary human rights laws that many western nation-states have been setting the precedent for, for quite some time. The Republic of Ireland prides itself on its strong Catholic roots, and indeed the adherence to what is essentially Catholic law. Ireland has a unique history that has seemed to act as both an enabler and an explanation as to why for a ‘western country’ it has been able to remain “about twenty years behind the west” (Hug 2001:26). In this essay I would like to focus on homosexual rights and discuss how the laws are changing in Ireland. I want to first focus on the precedent set by the history of law-making and interpreting in Ireland, and then following …show more content…
In the context of gay rights there became a shift in interpretation from objective to subject by the Irish Judiciary (Hug 2001:25). The Act that finally decriminalized homosexuality in 1993 is significant not only because of what the law did, but the philosophy behind it. “By delivering a bill not based solely on the implications of homosexuality being morally or socially acceptable, rather on the notion of whether it is acceptable to placate the majority by imposing extraneous and unnecessary laws to a minority, it exemplifies the shift in the philosophy under lying Irish law-making heretofore” (Hug 2001:37). This shift in the Irish law-making philosophy is analogous to the universalism versus cultural relativism debate within the rights discourse.
In the not too distant past, Irish law was completely engulfed and dictated by doctrines of the Catholic Church, which assumes the concept of “natural law” to be universal and “obligatory for moral law” (Hug 2001:23). As Irish law is slowly changing and evolving there seems to swing towards analyzing gay rights cases (and for that matter most human rights cases) in a more subjective way. It seems the decisions made by

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