Clare County

Civic Reception recognises Bernárd Lynch


Clare County Council hosted a Civic Reception in Áras Contae an Chláir today which recognised the outstanding impact that Bernárd Lynch has had on society and his work fighting for equal rights for the LGBTQIA+ community and people with HIV/AIDS.

Bernárd Lynch has worked for the rights of LGBTQIA+ people and people with HIV/AIDS for almost fifty years. His endless dedication to these causes has been admired and honoured by many, from President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, to several Mayors of New York.

His activism, however, has not always been met kindly, finding many troubles and obstacles in the way while fighting for what he believes in.

While working in New York, Bernárd founded the first AIDS ministry and was drafted on to the Mayor of New York’s Task Force on AIDS. This was documented by Channel 4 U.K. in two documentaries: ‘AIDS: A Priest’s Testament’ in 1987; and ‘Soul Survivor’ in 1990.

As documented in the Channel 4 documentary, ‘A Priest on Trial’ in 1990, Bernárd’s support for LGBTQIA+ rights brought down on him a false prosecution perpetrated by Church and government officials, from which he won total exoneration and was declared “fiercely innocent” by Justice Burton Roberts in the Bronx Supreme Court on 21st April 1989.

Bernárd became the first priest of a mainline church to march publicly in London’s Pride Parade in 1992. That same year, he founded a support group for Catholic gay priests which still operates to the present day.

In 2006, Bernárd became the first Catholic priest in the world to have a civil partnership, and married his partner, Billy Desmond, in Clare in 2017, which was the first gay marriage in the county.

In 2019, he was also awarded the Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad by President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins.

Before presenting Bernárd with a Civic Reception Presentation Scroll and a clock at today’s reception, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, Cllr Tony O’Brien, said: “As Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, I am honoured to have you here in Clare today, Bernárd. Your work over the last 50 years and how you continue to fight for what you believe in and for equal rights for so many communities on a daily basis is admirable. I commend your bravery and courage over the years, your self-pride, and your undying dedication to helping others.”

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