Civil partnership expected to fail lesbian and gay community

24 Jun 2008

MarriagEquality are today warning the lesbian and gay community about further discrimination following an announcement that the Heads of Bill on Civil Partnership is with Cabinet for approval.

Civil partnership is being dubbed as 'marriage-like', but marriage entitlements afforded to heterosexual couples will be denied to lesbian and gay couples under the proposed scheme. The human right to marry must be extended to lesbian and gay couples now.

Moninne Griffith, MarriagEquality commented, "We already know that under civil partnership, the children of lesbian and gay mums and dads will be left in limbo with no constitutional or legal recognition, or protection. Therefore, civil partnership from the outset is not marriage-like, it is separate and it reinforces inequality."

Griffith continued, 'Civil partnership should have been introduced to Ireland for all straight, lesbian and gay cohabiting couples many years ago. Introducing civil partnership as the only option for lesbians and gay men is discriminatory."

The Government are saying that Irish people are not ready for lesbians and gay men to marry in a civil ceremony but we have research that supports a very different view. There has been a huge public shift in recent times on the issue. Almost 60% of Irish people think that lesbians and gay men should have the option to marry. Furthermore, an overwhelming 86% of people agreed that children of gay and lesbian parents should have the same family rights as other children.

The government's own 2006 Colley report on cohabiting couples found that marriage equality was the only measure that could guarantee full equality for same-sex couples.

The Irish Constitution does not define marriage as being between a man and a woman. MarriagEquality shares the opinion of some of Ireland's finest constitutional lawyers who see no constitutional impediment to providing marriage equality. There is no substance to the argument that full equality for same sex couples is unconstitutional.

More information can be found on

Marriage Equality
MarriagEquality is an organisation working for civil marriage to be opened to same-sex couples in Ireland.

Civil Marriage
Civil marriage will provide lesbians and gay men with rights and responsibilities that are currently only available to married heterosexual couples.

Currently, lesbian and gay couples do not have the choice to have their relationships recognized as a family unit and are therefore not protected under the Irish constitution.

The Irish constitution does not define marriage as being between a man and a woman, and so MarriagEquality believe that the Constitution's definition of the family could easily encompasses same-sex relationships.

There are a number of options open to the government to introduce same-sex civil marriage including;

  • they could introduce new legislation for full marriage equality
  • they could change the Civil Registration Act that covers civil marriage to include same sex couples
  • they could hold a referendum to change Bunreacht na hEireann

- Introduction of Civil marriage in registry offices for gays and lesbians does not mean introduction of religious marriage ceremonies.
- The majority of Irish people support the institution of marriage being opened up to same-sex couples. Furthermore, an overwhelming majority of Irish people agree that children of gay and lesbian mums and dads should have the same family rights as other children.
- Lesbians and gay men have been and will continue to be loving parents to their children. This family unit, like those of married people, needs the protection of the Constitution
- The majority of Irish adoptions are conducted by the parents of the children in question - some of whom are gay or lesbian - adopting their own children. There is no right to adoption currently for heterosexual couples, just a right to be considered for adoption. This is what MarriagEquality is seeking for gay and lesbian people - the same rights as heterosexual couples to be considered for adoption.

Civil Partnership
Civil partnership options should have been introduced into Ireland for heterosexual lesbian and gay co-habiting couples many years ago. MarriagEquality wants access to marriage for lesbian and gay couples now.

Civil Partnership does recognize lesbian and gay relationships, however it fails to recognize the relationship as a family unit and therefore these relationships are denied the protection afforded heterosexual married couples under the constitution.

Civil partnership does not satisfy the urgent needs of the many gay and lesbian parents already raising children in loving homes. Failing to address the issue of gay parenting leaves these children and their parents outside the Constitutional protection afforded to children of married couples.

The Government's own "Colley Report" commissioned in 2006 to examine partnership options clearly stated that marriage is the only option that would provide full equality for same sex couples.

To see RTE One's Report on Heads of Bill on Civil Partnership, featuring Moninne Griffith from MarriagEquality on the 9pm News click here

To listen to Drive Time's interview with Grainne Healy of MarriagEquality on Heads of Bill on Civil Partnership on RTE Radio 1 click here