Last year, the Irish people overwhelmingly voted to legalize marriage equality. It was as if, in the course of just a few months, Ireland stepped out from the shadows of conservatism and Catholicism and triumphantly surpassed the progressive values of even its liberal European neighbors. Amid the swirl of endless discussions surrounding homophobia, family values, and LGBT rights, a new society emerged, and it was quickly reflected in law.
Today, Ireland not only provides equal rights and protections for same-sex couples and their families—in terms of adoption and non-discrimination laws, for example—it also leads the international community in terms of the rights and recognition of trans people. Following the successful marriage referendum in May, which had the backing of every major political party in the government, officials proudly proclaimed their small island country the "rainbow nation." The lead-up to Ireland's next election holds the promise of further entrenching that notion, as there are record numbers of LGBT politicians running for office.
The Outmost, Ireland's leading LGBT news site, spoke with the nine candidates, including four prominent politicians running for re-election: Senator Katherine Zappone (above, from left), who first sued Ireland to recognize her marriage in 2004, Leo Varadkar, who is currently the nation's Health Minister, John Lyons, and Jerry Buttimer.
Things are only looking up for the rainbow population of the newly christened rainbow nation.