The Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) calls on all Irish citizens to vote YES in the Marriage Referendum this week. For many newly-naturalised Irish citizens, it is their first chance to vote in a referendum. This is a critical opportunity to promote minority rights and tackle discrimination. Voting Yes is a vote for equality.
Speaking on behalf of MRCI, Chairperson Hilda Regaspi said “MRCI is committed to tackling discrimination and working for equality. This referendum represents a coming of age for the Irish nation, and migrants are a central part of the journey to create a just and equal Ireland”.
Ms Regaspi went on to say, “This is my first time voting as an Irish citizen and I will be voting yes because I strongly believe that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people should have the same right to marry as heterosexual couples if they so wish. Love is gender blind. This is about dignity, decency and above all equality. Many migrants know first-hand what it’s like to be discriminated against on the basis of their identity. We need to build solidarity between different minority groups and work together for a more equal and open Ireland.”
Pradeep Mahadeshwar is gay and moved to Ireland from India some years ago. He said, “Marriage as a concept is not just about religion; it was created by humankind, therefore every living person should have the right to enter into marriage if they wish. I can’t vote in this referendum but I’m calling on people to vote yes to not only promote equality but also to challenge discrimination. It’s time to say yes and change this selfish aspect of our society and culture”.
Lucy Peprah, MRCI board member, concluded by saying, “The LGBT community, like so many local communities all over Ireland today, is multicultural and multi-ethnic. As a migrant woman myself I feel it’s so important that the voices and experiences of ethnic minority communities are part of this referendum debate. Through my daily work with migrant communities in South Dublin I see first-hand the impact of discrimination and exclusion on people’s lives. In some communities, in some families, being LGBT is simply not acceptable yet. If we are committed to challenging discrimination, homophobia and racism in all of its forms, a YES vote is vital.”
Notes for Editor
Since 2001, MRCI has operated a Drop-In Centre and national helpline for migrants and their families, helping people to deal with issues around immigration, employment and discrimination. MRCI caseworkers assist some 2,000 migrants each year. MRCI also facilitates a number of migrant-led campaign groups, including Justice for the Undocumented and the Domestic Workers Action Group.