A LOCAL gay rights activist has expressed his sorrow that his mother won’t be around to see him tie the knot with his partner if same-sex marriage is made legal in the North.
Shane Sweeney from Irvinestown was reacting to last week’s overwhelming vote by Australians in favour of legalising same-sex marriage. The proposal was backed by 61.6% of voters who wanted to see equal marriage legalised “down under”.
Garrison man Tiernan Brady, executive director of Australians for Equality, led the campaign and following the result, he said: “Amidst the joy, I still feel a pang of sadness when I think of where I was born and raised in Fermanagh – and how LGBTI people there are still denied their equality.”
One of those he was referring to is Shane who has been engaged for two years to his partner of five years Eoin McCabe. They hope to one day be able to get married in front of family and friends in Fermanagh. Instead they are running out of patience for same-sex marriage to be legalised in the North where it remains a devolved issue, so only a functioning Executive can decide whether to alter its legal definition.
Over two years since the Republic voted for legalisation and five months on from Leo Varadkar’s election as the country’s first openly gay Taoiseach, Shane says he still feels like a second-class citizen.
He told the Herald: “It goes without saying that I am over the moon for another country and one such as Australia for the public to give their backing to same-sex marriage. The vote shines a light on the impasse here and given the current political situation, it seems as far away as it did five years ago.”
Sadly for Shane his mother Angela won’t witness the historic day when he exchanges vows with Eoin, as she died suddenly last month.
“My marriage day will be bitter sweet in any regard. We had long expected that our grandparents wouldn’t make our wedding but I never expected that my mum wouldn’t. She was my biggest advocate and was so proud of me and Eoin. Mum couldn’t wait for us to get married and to walk me down the aisle.”