Sexual Orientation

LGBT Staff Network

In 2008, the LGBT Staff Network was launched in UCC, the first officially recognised university network of its kind in Ireland, with its aims being to act as a consultation forum on LGBT employment and welfare related issues for the Department of Human Resources, UCC and to provide a forum for networking, information sharing and peer support, amongst others.

You can read more about the network, become a member or learn how to be a good LGBT ally here.

UCC LGBT* Society

University College Cork’s Lesbian Gay, Bisexual and Trans* Society

The Society’s main aim is to provide a safe space for its members & raise awareness of LGBT issues through various campaigns and events.

Email –
Twitter – @UCCLGBT

Decriminalisation of Homosexuality

In Ireland, homosexuality became a sin with the establishment of the Catholic Church, and practising homosexuality was made a criminal offence during the reign of Henry VIII when the Bugery Act 1533 was extended to cover Ireland.  Indeed, it is mooted that, under Brehon Law, homosexuality was accepted practice and was only deemed an issue if a husband exchewed his wife's bed for a male lover, thereby denying her the possibility of a child, and was seen as a ground for divorce, as was heterosexual adultery or impotence for the same reason.  There are also references to same-sex relationships in Irish myth and legend.

However, it remained a criminal act in the Irish Republic until 1993, after a 1988 ruling by the ECtHR on a case against the State was brought by (now Senator) David Norris and the Campaign for Sexual Law Reform.  The ECtHR was a significant driving force in the legalisation or decriminalisation of practising homosexuality.

"The most significant ECtHR decisions on sexual orientation issues have only been given since 1981 and national implementation of some key elements of the jurisprudence has taken decades. Between 1955 and 1980 a number of applications challenging the criminalization of homosexuality were declared inadmissible by the European Commission of Human Rights on the basis that there was no violation of any ECHR right. In 1977 an application against the UK was held admissible but was disposed of by the Committee of Ministers.154 Not until 1981 did a case reach the ECtHR. Remarkably, the application was successful. In Dudgeon v United Kingdom155 the ECtHR held, by 15 votes to 4, that the criminal prohibition on private homosexual conduct between consenting adults in Northern Ireland interfered with their right to respect for private life under Article 8 of the ECHR. That jurisprudence was subsequently applied to Ireland in 1988 and to Cyprus in 1993."

Dominic McGoldrick; The Development and Status of Sexual Orientation Discrimination under International Human Rights Law, Human Rights Law Review, Volume 16, Issue 4, 1 December 2016, Pages 613–668,

On January 13th 2011, the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010 came into force, which specifically recognised same-sex relationships and granted protections similar (but not equal) to marriage.

On May 22nd 2015, Ireland became the first country in the world to legalise Marriage Equality by popular vote, by amending the Consitution to include a new section 4 to Article 41:

4. Féadfaidh beirt, gan beann ar a ngnéas, conradh pósta a dhéanamh de réir dlí.

4. Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.

On June 19th 2018, Taoiseach Leo Varadker made a statement on behalf of the Irish State apologising to all affected by "decades of cruelty and injustice."

Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Unit

Comhionannas, Éagsúlacht agus Ionchuimsitheacht