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Marriage Equality welcomes USI Congress commitment to equality for same sex couples
11 Apr 2012
Marriage Equality have welcomed news that the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) at last weekend's USI Congress have voted "to vehemently campaign on the full equalisation of rights regardless of sexual orientation, for full and equal marriage rights, full and equal adoption rights and for this union to recognise lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) members as full and equal members of society in recognition of the rights laid out above." The USI is the sole national representative body for students in Ireland, representing over 250,000 students in over 40 colleges across the country. The motion was proposed by UCD Students' Union, and was passed unanimously by the USI Congress.
"We are delighted to have the strong support of the USI behind the campaign for equality for same sex couples, our families and our children," said Moninne Griffith, Director of Marriage Equality. "We have a growing political consensus in favour of removing the marriage ban, with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael having recently passed motions on the issue of marriage equality at their Ard Fheiseanna. We also have a strong majority - 73% - of people who believe that denying someone the right to marry the person they love is wrong. The upcoming Constitutional Convention will make recommendations to Government in relation to introduction of marriage equality for same sex couples in Ireland, so these next few months are critical for our campaign. We are delighted that USI will be campaigning with us."
"We are also delighted that USI have pledged their support for adoption by same sex couples," continued Ms Griffith. "As recently as yesterday, the Minister for Children, Frances Fitzgerald acknowledged that Civil Partnership does not protect children of same sex couples and promised to look at ways to address the issues faced by children in same sex families. We met the Minister at the recent Fine Gael Ard Fheis, and we are delighted that she is open to positive reforms to protect our children. Initial census figures released in late March found over 4000 cohabiting same sex couples, including 230 same sex couples with children, though these figures are thought to be hugely under-representative. None of these children are protected under the current system, and this could be easily remedied by removing the marriage ban for same sex couples."
Incoming USI Equality Officer Laura Harmon highlighted the importance of equality to third level students around Ireland: "This is something the Union of Students in Ireland will be pushing next year. Students feel very strongly about this issue and there is a clear hunger from both LGBT and non-LGBT students to get involved in campaigning for LGBT rights. It is fantastic that there is such a clear mandate from the membership for USI to campaign for marriage equality and adoption rights for same-sex couples."
The marriage ban for same sex couples in Ireland currently affects up to 10% of the population. With over 160 differences between civil partnership and civil marriage, these inequalities are having a real impact on same sex couples, our families and our children. Marriage Equality is looking forward to fully engaging with the Constitutional Convention, and has urged supporters to contact their elected representatives to ensure that the voices of those affected by the marriage ban - gay and lesbian couples, their families and children - are heard during the process.
Full Text of the Motion proposed by UCD Students' Union:
Congress notes with grave concern:
That despite our claims to be a progressive nation we do not recognise the rights of LGBT members of the community as being fully and unequivocally equal to those of heterosexual orientation.
Congress further notes:
The failure to recognise equality in our legislation undeniably leads to a failure to see people as equals in our classrooms, our lecture theatres, our campuses and our workplaces.
This failure to lead both directly and indirectly to a lesser standard of living for members of the LGBT community. That it leads to the denial of rights to children raised by same sex parents and to gross negligence on the part of the state by indirectly condoning bullying and torment for people who identify as LGBT.
Congress therefore mandates:
The President, the Vice-President for Campaigns and the Vice-President for Equality & Citizenship to vehemently campaign on the full equalisation of rights regardless of sexual orientation, for full and equal marriage rights, full and equal adoption rights and for this union to recognise LGBT members as full and equal members of society in recognition of the rights laid out above.