As Ireland gears up for the March for Choice this Saturday, Abortion Rights Campaigners say Repeal the 8th is an LGBT issue
People gather, unfurling banners, hugging friends and catching up, sharing face paint, comparing outfits and t-shirts. They’re all getting ready to march, but in which march event? Over the last four years, many of us have had multiple reasons to speak with our feet, participating in Marches for Choice, Marches for Marriage and Prides. This year’s March for Choice coming up this Saturday, September 24 will be no exception, bringing together activists and communities in all their diversity.
While many activists in Ireland support both LGBT equality and repeal of the 8th Amendment because they take a progressive stance on social issues, for others the personal is political. Within the Abortion Rights Campaign (ARC), we know well that the 8th Amendment and Ireland’s restrictive abortion laws do not only impact cis-gendered heterosexual women, but limit the bodily autonomy of lesbian and bisexual women, trans men and those with non-binary genders as well.
The latest figures from the Rape Crisis Network Ireland reaffirm this, revealing that some lesbian and bisexual women who became pregnant as a result of sexual violence chose to end their pregnancies. Perhaps in recognition of these facts, the National LGBT Federation’s second Burning Issues report, which contains the findings from the largest LGBT consultation in Ireland, endorses supporting repeal of the 8th Ammendment as vital to achieving gender equality and human rights.
Lesbian, bisexual and transgender voices have always been at the forefront of activism for abortion access. In 1992, the country was in uproar over the X case, in which the Irish state attempted to prevent a 14 year-old rape victim from accessing abortion services abroad. In response, feminist electronica duo Zrazy released a song with the lyrics “6794700 – every woman’s right to know”. Calling that number put you through to the Women’s Information Network. In those pre-Internet days, this helpline run by volunteers was the only way to access abortion information. In the context of the early ’90s, Zrazy’s lyrics were deeply subversive and did not enjoy popular support – one half of Zrazy’s record company refused to handle the album. Their first video was also banned by RTÉ for featuring two women kissing.
So what change do we still need to see? Read more on next page…