Reflections on the Archive: Decriminalisation


October 3, 2023
Han Tiernan

"On Wednesday, July 7, 1993, the President of Ireland, Mrs Mary Robinson, signed into law, the bill which decriminalised homosexual acts between adults of 17 years and over".

These were the words emblazoned across the front page of issue 54, August 1993. Beneath them was an image of four people toasting with glasses of champagne outside Dáil Éireann.
The celebrations marked the end of a legal and political battle which had begun 16 years earlier when Senator David Norris first brought a case to the High Court against the Attorney General.
Although GCN was only established in 1988, from the very first issue in February of that year, it devoted significant column space to covering the subject.
This 15-minute slide presentation titled 'Decriminalisation Through the GCN Archives', explores GCN's coverage of the lead-up to the passing of the 1993 bill. It was first presented at the 'Decriminalization at 30' conference at Trinity College on June 8, 2023.

"It is important that everyone shame the Government into responding; it is the most fundamental human rights challenge facing the Government is fair to say that we have the worst record in legal discrimination against lesbians and gay men [in Europe]." Tom Cooney, issue 17, March 1990.

A full transcript of the presentation is available here.

***Content warning: This presentation references sexual assault and violence. If any of the issues discussed impact you, you can contact Dublin Rape Crisis Centre or LGBT Ireland***