Irish Government Urged to Establish Legal Recognition of Children in LGBT Families

8 Sep 2010

Publication cover - VOC Report Final Sept 10 Cover image for VOC Report Final Sept 10

First of its kind ground breaking Irish report launched at Conference

Wednesday, 8th September 2010: Voices of Children, a report on a workshop which documents the experiences of young people growing up in Ireland with lesbian parents is being launched today by Marriage Equality at a conference in Dublin. Research among the children of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) parents to ascertain their experiences has never been conducted in Ireland before and the focus of Voices of Children was both on the contemporary, lived reality of children of lesbian parents in Ireland and the lack of legal protection for them and their families. A copy of the report can be downloaded from
Marriage Equality, based on the what the adult children had to say themselves, and what they asked for, developed recommendations, one being a call on the Irish Government to establish legal recognition of children in LGBT families, through appropriate amendment of adoption and guardianship laws and by the introduction of civil marriage rights for gay and lesbian parents.

Grainne Healy, Chairwoman, Marriage Equality said, "Of particular concern in this study are the fundamental inconsistencies between the external face that the Irish State shows to the international community in its human rights commitments, and the reality of its treatment and practices at home towards LGBT families. Contrary to the advice of the Ombudsman for Children on both adoption and Civil Partnership, the Irish Government has created a legal vacuum for this group of children. This means that discrimination identified by the children in the report across the education and health system, and in society, will continue unchallenged."
Professor Sheila Greene, Director, the Children's Research Centre, Trinity College Dublin said, "In debates about the legalization and recognition of same-sex marriage, assertions have been made that growing up with lesbian or gay parents is likely to lead to poor outcomes for children. The report launched today, Voices of Children, mirrors four decades of international legal, psychological, and sociological research from Europe and North America that has cumulatively declared as unfounded claims that LGBT people are unfit as parents."

Moninne Griffith, Director, Marriage Equality said, "The young adults who participated in the research are confident, happy, well balanced, loved individuals. They certainly silence arguments that being raised by lesbian or gay parents is in any way negative. Rather than Marriage Equality telling policy makers and people who work with children what these children need, Voices of Children has begun a process by which their voices can be heard and responded to. The ultimate aim is to contribute to social change so that next generations of children raised by LGBT parents experience a positive, secure future."

Voices of Children originated from the child of a lesbian parent's comment, "...everyone talks about us but no-one asks us." Speakers at the Voices of Children Conference include members of the 'Believe in Equality' group, young adults with LGBT parents; Fergus Finlay, Chief Executive, Barnardos; Professor Sheila Greene, Director of the Children's Research Centre, Trinity College Dublin; Grainne Healy, Chairwoman, Marriage Equality; Geoffrey Shannon, Deputy Director of Education, Law Society of Ireland and child law expert; Helen Statham, Senior Research Associate and Deputy Director, Centre for Family Research, Cambridge University; Dr Machteld Vonk, Assistant Professor of Comparative Law and Family Law, Utrecht University, Netherlands.




Notes to Editor

*The recommendations flowing from the report include;
Marriage Equality has listened to the voices of children. These voices have told us that they: 'envision a future in which human rights for all children in Ireland are a lived reality', Marriage Equality makes the following recommendations:

  1. Marriage Equality calls on the Irish Government to establish legal recognition of children in LGBT families, through appropriate amendment of adoption and guardianship laws, and by the introduction of Civil Marriage rights for gay and lesbian parents.
  2. Marriage Equality supports the formation of the children of LGBT advocacy group 'Believe in Equality' as they work towards the realisation of a child's right to be heard and build coalitions with other LGBT organisations in Ireland and abroad.
  3. Marriage Equality joins with 'Believe in Equality' to work collaboratively in the development and implementation of a strategy to ensure the rights of all children and parents in LGBT families.
  4. Marriage Equality seeks to source funding to build further research evidence through specific studies on the experiences of children of LGBT families in Ireland.
  5. Marriage Equality asks that plans be expedited for census data to include the counting of households headed by same-sex parents so as to provide essential visibility and data which will, in turn, influence policy priorities and legislative change.
  6. Marriage Equality is committed to continue to work closely with trades unions, Government departments, LGBT groups, HSE and youth groups, human rights, equality and social justice groups, to influence school ethoses and medical service provision so that those public services become free from homophobic prejudice experienced by LGBT people, their children and families.

Voices of Children is supported under the European Community Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity - PROGRESS (2007-2013).

This programme is managed by the Directorate-General for Employment, social affairs and equal opportunities of the European Commission. It was established to financially support the implementation of the objectives of the European Union in the employment and social affairs area, as set out in the Social Agenda, and thereby contribute to the achievement of the Lisbon Strategy goals in these fields.

The seven-year Programme targets all stake holders who can help shape the development of appropriate and effective employment and social legislation and policies, across the EU-27, EFTA-EEA and EU candidate and pre-candidate countries.

PROGRESS mission is to strengthen the EU contribution in support of Member States' commitments PROGRESS will be instrumental in:

  • providing analysis and policy advice on PROGRESS policy areas;
  • monitoring and reporting on the implementation of EU legislation and policies in PROGRESS policy areas;
  • promoting policy transfer, learning and support among Member States on EU objectives and priorities; and
  • relaying the views of the stakeholders and society at large

For more information see:

The information contained in Voices of Children does not necessarily reflect the position or opinion of the European Commission.
The information contained in Voices of Children does not necessarily reflect the position or opinion of the Equality Authority.