We may have marriage equality, but the fight for LGBT rights rages on 3 years ago

We may have marriage equality, but the fight for LGBT rights rages on

It's been over two years since marriage equality was legalised by popular vote in Ireland.

Since then, same-sex marriage has been made legal in America, Taiwan and most recently, Germany. While allowing everybody the same right to marry is a considerable milestone for any country's LGBT rights movement, this still doesn't mean that full equality has been achieved.

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It also doesn't mean that everybody is being afforded the same rights around the world.

Homosexuality is still illegal in over 70 countries including India, Pakistan, and Morocco. Engaging in same-sex sexual activity may be punishable by death in Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Pride flag

Closer to home, LGBT activists in Northern Ireland are still fighting for their right to marry. Unlike the rest of the UK where same-sex marriage has been legal since 2014, members of the LGBT community in the North are still protesting the government's decision to continue blocking legislation to try and legalise equal marriage. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) have blocked the legislation five times in just three years.

To combat this, activists and members of the community have been participating in regular marches and protests over the years. This weekend, thousands lined the streets of Belfast for a rally against the block, with a number of celebrities weighing in before the march took place.

The likes of Graham Norton, Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody, and Liam Neeson all voiced their support of the cause, with Neeson stating that "We've had enough of a history in our society in Northern Ireland of discrimination, mistrust and hatred."

A student in Northern Ireland also pledged her support for the campaign on the same day by wearing a pride flag to her graduation. Ciara Cinnamond tweeted afterwards saying "nothing was stopping me making a statement."

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Although the DUP have said they will continue to block same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland to preserve "family values," this hasn't stopped same-sex couples from crossing the border to tie the knot. But while this option is available, it is not comparable to the fact that LGBT people are being consistently denied the right to marry in their own country.

Similarly, while marriage equality is legal in Ireland, this doesn't mean that discrimination has become a thing of the past. Just a few months ago, Dublin's iconic gay bar The George was defaced with homophobic graffiti and swastikas. As well as this, it was reported that 1 in 5 young LGBT people still face bullying and harassment.

A change in the law doesn't automatically mean a change in societal attitudes too.

Unsurprisingly, Ireland isn't the only place where this discrimination still happens. After marriage equality was legalised in the States, there was major backlash from religious organisations who wouldn't conduct same-sex marriages in their churches, and clerks who refused to issue marriage licences to same-sex couples.

Love trumps hate

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The problems continued when it was revealed that Trump's vice president Mike Pence believed in conversion therapy to 'fix' the sexual orientations of LGBT people. Conversion therapy is still legal in most US states.

It came to light today that a man in China had sued a mental hospital for forcibly engaging him in the practice - and won. The man had been admitted to the hospital by his wife and was forced to take injections and medicine before leaving the hospital after almost three weeks.

Chinese activists are calling the ruling a victory for the country's LGBT movement, which has started to gain traction in recent months. Homosexuality has only been legal in China since 1997.

Many are still of the opinion that marriage equality halted homophobia in its tracks, but discrimination still exists in work places, schools, and on the streets.

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The introduction of hate crime laws and further recognition for transgender people would be welcome changes, but until then the LGBT community still has a considerable fight on their hands.