#HOMETOVOTE: MORE AT STAKE THAN EVER BEFORE

As a gay man I burst with pride when crowds came #HomeToVote for same-sex marriage. This time around much more is at stake, writes Paul Jennings. 

Photo by Yannis Papanastasopoulos

Photo by Yannis Papanastasopoulos

This week the London-Irish Abortion Rights Campaign launched hometovote.com - a website dedicated to encouraging Irish citizens abroad to return home to cast a ballot in support of women's reproductive rights. 

While the exact date for a referendum on the Eighth Amendment is yet to be announced, Irish immigrants are making their intentions known. Social media has been flooded with #hometovote pledges from around the world. 

I remember when the first campaign of this nature was launched in 2015, to urge people to return home in support of same-sex marriage.

I was watching Twitter and bursting with pride to see so many of my Irish brothers and sisters going out of their way - and spending considerable amounts of money - to bring about marriage equality. 

As a gay person who grew up in Northern Ireland, I honestly did not expect the referendum to go the way it did. It was at that point, when I saw those people returning home, that I began to think a yes vote was possible.  

I hope from the bottom of my heart that the current #HomeToVote campaign is as successful.

'NOT MARGINALISATION, BUT OPPRESSION' 

Reproductive freedom is just as important as equal marriage if Ireland is to become the modern and progressive country we know it can be. 

When it comes to impact on the lives of Irish citizens, this vote is vital. It is life and death. 

In the year after the marriage equality referendum, 1,056 marriages between same-sex partners took place in Ireland. 

Many of these had probably been a long time coming, so that number may drop in years to come. 

Even at this presumably high number, three times as many women must travel overseas to access abortion services every year. 

That's not to diminish in any way the importance of the Yes Equality vote. Gay people were absolutely marginalised by the denial of marriage. It was a wrong that needed to be set right.

But to deny someone bodily autonomy in their country is not a form of marginalisation, it is oppression.

Women in Ireland have been discriminated against in an invasive and personal way. In 2012, this discrimination resulted in death of Savita Halappanavar after she was refused an abortion at a Galway hospital.   

Repealing the Eighth Amendment is the only way to ensure nobody else loses their life in this manner. 

So please come home to vote with more urgency than ever before.

You are not only doing the right thing, you could be saving a life.  

 

Hannah Little