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Civil Partnership and Ireland: How a Minority Achieved a Majority

Resource type: Research Report

Clear Thinking Communications & Center for Evaluation Innovation |

In 2010, Ireland enacted some of the most far-reaching legal protections for gay and lesbian couples in the world. The case study describes the story of how this historic legislation gained passage in a largely Catholic country that just 16 years earlier had decriminalised homosexual conduct between men. It looks at the efforts of Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) which, along with many supporters and collaborators, worked methodically to achieve this change. The study outlines the critical elements of the advocacy strategy and how GLEN adapted its approach in response to changing social and political opportunities and setbacks. There are also lessons for advocates seeking to achieve significant legislative, policy or practice change, including:

  • Be confident that significant change is possible
  • Build a majority by focusing on the movable middle
  • Try positive framing; show the issue as a logical progression of advances already made
  • Understand the culture and society and link messaging to audience values or traditions
  • Work within the system rather than against it
  • Manage the unmovable opposition, do not always fight it.
Source: Gay and Lesbian Equality Network

The Gay and Lesbian Equality Network is an Atlantic grantee.