To the barricades

Today I attended 2 demonstrations. One was extremely polite and the other one was inadvertently attended.

Apparently the Italian Senate is voting next week to bring in civil partnership legislation for couples who want some legal protection for their relationship but who don’t want to get married. This could be availed of by same-sex or opposite sex couples. Of course it’s good that the straight couples can benefit from this proposed new law, but it is the gay couples who would benefit most – Italy being the only country in the pre-2000 EU in which same sex couples have absolutely no legal protection – so if for example one half of a 40 year couple dies then his or her partner will not be recognised as next of kin. Greece was the other hold-out but they sorted that out last year. The lovely straights can of course get married The law being proposed is not going to give equal civil marriage rights – apparently the forces of catholicism run deep in that country, so civil unions is the plan.

However the usual suspects are out in their malignant droves campaigning against the new law, harping on about Mammies and Daddies, and it is not assured of passing. Italy’s version of the Iona Institute¬† – or should that be Instituti is called the Vatican and they are vehemently opposed. As you would expect of course. So today there was demonstrations at Italian embassies all over the EU to show solidarity with the Italian gays (personally I am in favour of reclaiming the word sodomy – there is something deeply elegant and poetic about being called a sodomite. Who can ever forget Una Bean NicMathuna – of the Iona Institute spitting feathers about the wife-swapping sodomites in Dail Eireann when divorce reached these shores in 1996. That interview remains on of my most cherished memories of that referendum).

Well I live less than a 30 minute walk to the Italian embassy so I thought I’d pop by and hold a banner and if required, chain myself to a railing. This was completely unnecessary. It was by far the most polite demonstration I had ever been t. It was not large – maybe about 50 people during the time that I was there. They were no bullhorns or loudspeakers, merely some very polite people assembled, handing out flyers with ‘Wake Up Italy’ emblazoned on them. There were a fair number of Italians – well naturally – and what seemed like a large contingent of the Yes Equality campaign from last year, who seemed relieved and happy that they have a new cause to rally around. It must have been quite difficult for those amazing campaigners after the euphoria of last year’s victory had worn off. After the months of campaigning, the countless doors knocked, the emails written, the stickers handed out to be brought back to reality, and the community and friendship and alliances that had been built up were no longer required.

I suppose was a bit like a theatre production. You rehearse with a bunch of people, you become almost like a family, and before you know it the performances are complete and the group dissipates.

I was not part of the Yes Equality campaign last year as I was living abroad, so I could only campaign for 1 day. BUt I do recall thinking, the day after the victory – ‘this is wonderful, but what about the terminally single?’

I stayed for about half an hour and made my way to town where I was meeting friends for lunch i.e. wine, at 4.30 in a cafe called FOAM – the most kitschy place I have ever been in. It is like the inside of an interior decorator’s brain. I was an hour early so planned to spend an hour reading the books and magazines in Easons – a childhood pleasure that I have proudly brought into adulthood with me.

On reaching O’Connell Street I saw there was a massive anti-water tax protest. Now this was what I regarded as a demonstration – hard left speakers, banners reading ‘It’s time for revolution – Easter Sunday 2016’. The protest was outside the GPO.

It was what I expected – but quite exhilarating and invigorating nonetheless. I was horrified to learn that the Moore Street market – which has been there for over 300 years apparently has been targetted for demolition as developers want to turn it into apartments and a hotel. I’ll join the protest against that. Apartments and luxury hotels are not what a city needs.

After the lunch / wine I went to see The Revenant in the cinema. Beautifully shot, but a rather flimsy story. They should make a film about the 2016 Rising against the apartment complexes.

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