I’m delighted to be involved in setting up Fine Gael LGBT, having its first meeting this evening, which will be addressed by Frances Fitzgerald, TD, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs.
We have yet to settle on formal policies and priorities of the group. Issues that would jump out for me would be equal marriage and ensuring that young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have a welcoming and open environment in school and the wider community. But our particular focus of the group will be decided in a deliberative manner in the coming months (for most of us, our political focus will shift back tomorrow to securing a Yes vote for the Stability Treaty). We don’t yet have formal spokespersons, except in an interim capacity, with an AGM also to be scheduled soon. So even though our inaugural meeting is this evening, we will not yet be formally launching with all our structures till we have some time for people to develop an interest in being involved.
Though part of the idea of the group is to give a structured outlet for those of us who are gay to shape decisions relating to changes in law or culture, this can’t become a group just for those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The developments in the past year, with motions passed on marriage and adoption at YFG Summer School, at YFG National Conference and at the Fine Gael Ard Fheis, came from a collective interest in the motions for debate in the organization, and was by no means something pushed by gay people alone. This work promoting these debates will continue outside of the confines of this group.
Our government colleagues in Labour also have an LGBT group, and while being distinctive in our approach, I’m sure there will be times when we will co-operate. But we should also look also to our ideological counterparts, if I can call them that, in LGBTory, who have been quite successful in their aims through the Conservative Party in government.
So these are just a few of my own ideas on this new venture. I’ve probably focused a lot on policy, as is my wont, but it will also be a visible sign of Fine Gael as a modern and inclusive party and will have a social aspect as well, to reassure the many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members of the party that we are not insignificant in number.