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Why you should reply to the public consultation on equality

Did you know that there’s a public consultation currently happening on the upcoming “gender equality” referendum?

Well, neither did I until just last night when it was brought to my attention by a friend.

As a full-time journalist and commentator, I’m someone who literally engages with politics and news for a living as my day job, and yet I had no idea that this thing even existed until the 11th hour, nor did anyone I’ve since mentioned it to.

It would make you wonder, wouldn’t it, how the government can conduct a “public consultation” that virtually the entire public appears to be unaware of? But that’s neither here nor there.

Not only is this consultation already well under way, but unbeknownst to most of us, it’s almost finished – the deadline for submissions is 12:00 noon on Friday the 19th of May (which is tomorrow at the time of this article being written). So there are only about 24 hours left to have your say.

Submissions can be sent by email to [email protected] with the subject line ‘Submission – Referendum’, if you want to let the government know what you think about all this.

For what it’s worth, I will be simply saying that I don’t want any referendum to take place, and that they should cancel the whole thing – that’s my personal contribution.

But what is the consultation about exactly? Though the exact wording hasn’t been released yet, I’ll explain the basic outline here, and then I will explain why you should definitely engage with this public consultation, even though the government will certainly ignore your response.


Following recommendations from the shambolic process known as the so-called “Citizens’ Assembly”, the government is planning a referendum at the end of the year to insert “gender identity” themes into the Irish constitution.

For example, according to the government, they want to amend Article 40.1 of Bunreacht na hEireann “to refer explicitly to gender equality and non-discrimination.”

Now, that probably sounds pretty reasonable, doesn’t it? Gender equality being referenced in the constitution – now who could have a problem with that?

Well, there are a great many issues with that, first and foremost being that this will almost certainly be a referendum to enshrine transgenderism as constitutionally-protected concept.

The Citizens’ Assembly on Gender Equality stated quite clearly that “The State has a special
responsibility to treat all of its citizens equally, regardless of their gender identity, in compliance with Article 40.1 of our Constitution.” And this would, needless to say, include transgender and “non-binary” identities.

Of course Varadkar himself has denied that this is what the referendum is about, saying he really wants to avoid the conversation being focused on trans issues. As reported by at the end of March:

“Any attempt to turn the referendum on gender equality into a debate about transgender issues would be tenuous and bogus, the Taoiseach has warned.”

But that’s clearly false. Because how can you have a referendum pertaining to “gender” without defining what “gender” is? Law is all about defining terms, so it’s obvious that the government will seek to include trans identification in our highest legal document, or at least make the wording vague enough that one could interpret it that way. You can almost be guaranteed that’s what’s going to happen.

This, therefore, is effectively “The Gender Identity Referendum” – though Varadkar is obviously very fearful of it being framed in that way.


The other reason you can know there is funny business going on here is that the constitution is perfectly adequate and correct on this issue already, and does not need to be changed in any way to ensure “gender equality.”

As Article 40.1 already says:

“All citizens shall, as human persons, be held equal before the law. This shall not be held to mean that the State shall not in its enactments have due regard to differences of capacity, physical and moral, and of social function.”

So in plain language, 40.1 currently says that all Irish citizens have the same legal rights, but that this doesn’t mean that all citizens are the same. It’s effectively saying that men and women are different in capacity (i.e. women can get pregnant, while men can’t), but that despite these differences, both sexes should be treated equally under law.

Now, I don’t know about you, but that sounds like the most reasonable, level-headed, and inarguably true position possible. It’s hard to see why the radical liberals in government would want to change that, other than to make it worse and dumber.

After all, discrimination on the basis of sex is already illegal in Ireland, and has been for decades. Just in 2020, for example, Yvonne O’Rourke, a former female captain in the Air Corps, was awarded over €117,000 after it was found that she was given a poor performance rating for taking two maternity leave absences from work. That was found to be discriminatory against her because of her sex, and so she was compensated for it.

Cases like this happen all the time – if you’re being discriminated against on the basis of your sex, you can sue, and if your case is legitimate you will win. No constitutional change is needed whatsoever.

Therefore, we can only conclude that if the government is pursuing a “gender” referendum, it is not to protect women, who are already catered for under law, but to insert a new protected category – namely transgenderism – into the law.

There are other proposed amendments which are equally absurd regarding the definition of the family and the so-called “women in the home” amendment (which does not say what most people think it says, and which is actually a hugely pro-woman policy, despite what the government would have you believe). But we can get into all of that in a future article.

For now, all you have to know is that this is an attempt to sneak the gender issue into our constitution by the back door via referendum. And it’s important that people make their thoughts known on this.


“But Ben,” you say. “Why should we bother engaging with the consultation? You yourself proved that they just ignore our responses, even when the feedback is overwhelmingly negative. So what’s the point?”

Let me be clear: the government could not care less about your consultation, as we’ve now established. If it lands on a Minister’s desk, he’ll likely use it to blow his nose when his hayfever allergies flare up. They couldn’t give a rat’s what you say.

But it’s still important to weigh in, for one reason: to have your opposition on record.

It’s better to make the government pursue a policy which we can later prove was opposed by 70% of people, rather than letting politicians flood their own consultation with bought-and-paid-for NGOs and pretend they have astroturfed support. To not engage with these things gives them un-earned legitimacy that they don’t deserve.

While these consultations can’t stop bad policies going through, they can show up the whole process for the sham that it is. And for that reason, it’s worth weighing in, even if it won’t change anything materially.

The closing date for submissions is 12 noon on Friday. Submissions can be sent by email to [email protected] with the subject line ‘Submission – Referendum’, if you want to let the government know what you think about this issue.

As said previously, I will be simply saying that I don’t want any referendum to take place at all, and that the whole plan should be scrapped. But to each their own.




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