ICBR get the SPUC off treatment after they target LGBTQ spaces during Repeal referendum


The afternoon of April 16th, outside Pantibar in Dublin, the so-called Irish Centre for Bioethical Reform staged an anti-abortion protest targeted at LGBT people in particular – planning to target well-known LGBTQ+ spaces Pantibar, Gay Community News, The George Bar, and Outhouse (LGBT community/resource centre), with a bespoke banner including a Pride rainbow flag.

The ICBR might be better known to people in Dublin as a small group of people who display large banners with graphic imagery of late-term abortions intended to shock and shame those have had abortions, who might have one someday, or who might defend a person’s right to make that decision. And, of course, those who have miscarried are collateral damage in the process.

In response, Radical Queers Resist called a counter-demonstration to show that queer/LGBT+ people do not stand for this reactionary wish to control pregnant people’s bodies – and the overwhelming response to the callout made that message clear. Rather than being subjected to the possibly traumatising imagery, passersby could see pro-choice placards defending the right to choose.

Unsurprisingly, the ICBR are the Irish spin-off of an American organisation, the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, founded by a former Republican politician.

With just  a month left until the referendum on repealing the 8th amendment to the (southern) Irish constitution, which equates a pregnant person and a foetus, amusingly the ICBR’s main organiser stated that the ICBR were not taking a position in the referendum, Yes or No, but were merely intending to ‘educate’ about abortion.

It would indeed be a bizarre method to ‘educate’, not least because the late-term abortions they exclusively focus on in their imagery constitute a tiny fraction of all abortions (1-2% occur after 21 weeks, with ~90% before 12 weeks). But, as we all know, this ‘educational’ tactic is not about an accurate representation of reality so much as a calculated emotional attack.

The giant banner, as visible in the video, has a Pride flag on the left, and a foetus on the right, reading ‘Pro-Equality = Pro-Abortion?’. This is a reference to the marriage equality referendum in this state which was won in 2015 by the Yes side.

In Ireland, the same theocratic regime has trammelled and denigrated women and queers alike. Whether criminalising reproductive control or ‘deviant’ sexualities, enforcing women’s subservient role as the helpless helper or stigmatising different ways of being, we are bringing this regime crumbling down for the sake of human freedom, for everyone.

A very successful counter-demonstration followed on the afternoon of 17th April by Radical Queers Resist - RQR and The George Bar in response to the innocuously named ‘Irish Centre for Bioethical Reform’.

The George, in Dublin, was the ICBR’s final stop on a grand tour specifically targeting LGBTQ spaces. As said by a Radical Queers Resist member, not only is it crucial to defend the right to choose to have an abortion, but it is crucial that queer people defend their safe spaces that have been so hard fought for. Important places of refuge from exactly these kind of reactionaries.

As can be seen, the response from pro-choice queer people was overwhelming, the potentially traumatising imagery blocked by a stream of Pride rainbow flags even as their characteristically large banner was lifted extra-high. When they planned their grand tour, likely that was not the image the ICBR envisaged. This follows a similarly robust response to the ICBR outside Pantibar just yesterday.

The ICBR is the spin-off of a US organisation, the ‘Center for Bioethical Reform’, founded by a Republican former politician.

Photo Credit: Alan Byrne