The Irish Gay Rights Movement and Political Opportunity Structures

  • Kaelan McCone Amherst College
Keywords: Gay, Rights, Sexual Identity, Secularization, Religious Identity, Political Mobilization


It is commonly accepted that the more advanced a nation becomes, the more secular it becomes. While this is the case in the Republic of Ireland, the country is unique in its rapid secularization between 1990-2015, which allowed for great expansion of LGBT rights in the nation. I seek to explain that the AIDS crisis questioned the legitimacy of existing sodomy laws in Ireland, and therefore the legitimacy of the Irish Government, which limited the extent to which Ireland could enforce its laws banning same-sex intercourse in the 1980s. Compiled with rapid economic advancement due to Ireland’s integration into the Eurozone and its deepening into the European market, this created internal opportunity structures that LGBT rights activists took advantage of to advance their movement in Ireland.