A NEW study has revealed the “deeply negative” impact the ‘no’ campaign had on LGBTI people during the Irish marriage equality referendum.
Only 23 per cent of Irish LGBTI people and families in the survey said they would be happy to have referendum again.
The survey was conducted by Dr Sharon Dane from The University of Queensland and Victoria University’s Dr Liz Short, with associate researcher Dr Grainne Healy from Ireland.
The survey employed a multi-mode recruitment method used for the successful recruitment of minority groups.
A mixed sample of 1,657 LGBTI people and their family members, from all age groups and both rural and urban areas, were asked to explain how they felt when confronted with materials and messages from the ‘no’ campaign.
“The ‘no’ side got into the heads of the undecided with all their lies,” said one survey participant.
“People were tearing each other apart on Facebook and by the end of it I was mentally and emotionally drained. I hope no other country has to go through that as it was a dark time to be a LGBT person.”
Another respondent said: “Throughout the campaign, I felt like I was in shark infested waters. I spent half the time trying to block it out, but when the signs [posters] came up it became impossible to ignore. I felt like I did not belong in society”.
Researcher Dr Sharon Dane said the euphoria TV audiences saw after the referendum hid the reality of the social and psychological impacts negative of the campaign on the daily lives LGBTI people and their families.
“What I found most disturbing about our results is that younger LGBTI people, who are already vulnerable, were the ones who reported feeling the most anxious and afraid in the lead up to the referendum,” she said.
“The fact that their stories were told with such detail and emotion, almost one and a half years since the date of the referendum, suggests that the impact of the ‘no’ campaign was more than a momentary experience or something that could be simply rectified through a win for marriage equality”.
Dr Liz Short said the survey results clearly indicated the damage a public vote could have on the communities affected.
“This research provides very clear evidence that significant social and psychological detriment results from holding a nation-wide ‘debate’ and focus on families, children and parents, and on whether all should have the same rights, recognition and options”.
“Following this, the dominant message was that children not raised by heterosexual married parents were “damaged” and “disadvantaged”.”