Truth Prevails and Myths Busted at LGBT Parenting Conference

21 Jan 2014

Marriage Equality the Top Ranking Legal Goal for Current or Prospective LGBT Parents

21st January 2014: A conference taking place in Dublin today, LGBT Parenting in Ireland, brings together Irish and international research and child protection experts to explore and discuss the most pressing matters for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) parents and their children living in Ireland.

According to a study into LGBT parenting in Ireland – presented at today’s conference by co-authors Dr Jane Pillinger and Ms Paula Fagan – the proposed introduction of equal marriage rights to Ireland will be key to tackling prejudice and stigma faced by LGBT parents and their children.

In addition to Dr Pillinger and Ms Fagan, conference speakers include Mr Alan Shatter, T.D., Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence; Dr Geoffrey Shannon, the Government’s Rapporteur on Child Protection and Dr Fiona Tasker, Birkbeck College, University of London. The meeting is being Chaired by Ms Norah Gibbons, Chairperson of the Child and Family Support Agency.

Dr Jane Pillinger, Co-Author, LGBT Parents in Ireland, commented, “Only the family based on marriage is protected by the Irish Constitution. This means that a multitude of family forms are excluded from having rights in Ireland, and those who suffer most from this exclusion are children. In the case of children with gay dads and lesbian mums, legal discrimination means they don’t have a right to one of their parents. This can lead to a multitude of economic, social and emotional upsets for children and their parents which can be easily avoided if the laws were updated to protect these specific family forms.”

Ms Paula Fagan, Co-Author, LGBT Parents in Ireland, continued, “A very positive finding from this study was that, for the majority of LGBT parents, their immediate family members including their children, were overwhelming accepting and supportive of their LGBT identity. However, it was the lack of legal rights and recognition of their family which was of greatest concern for them in their daily lives.”

Ms Grainne Healy, Chairwoman, Marriage Equality, commented, “This conference is about listening to the needs of our children and ensuring they are no longer discriminated against because of the sexuality of their parents. Children should be cherished. We live in a modern Ireland where a multitude of family forms exist and all children should be treated equally.”

Recommendations from the LGBT Parents in Ireland report include the need for the extension of civil marriage rights to same sex couples to enable LGBT parents to claim legal rights to parenting roles; the right for same-sex couples to be assessed for suitability to adopt and the right to be eligible to apply to adopt a child who has been fostered by a same-sex couple; the introduction of legislation on guardianship/parental responsibility to be extended to all carers who have a parental relationship with the child/children; the right of both same sex parents to be on birth certificates and legal protections for transgender parents in forthcoming legislation on gender recognition.

International studies being examined at today’s conference by Dr Fiona Tasker of Birkbeck College, University of London emphasise the similar outcomes of adopted children raised by opposite or same sex parents. The children’s psychological well-being, social adjustment at school, ability to develop friendships, and settle with their adoptive parents, show similar outcomes for children including same-sex headed family structures. Dr Tasker further examines how the family processes of love and support, rather than family structure, is of importance for children’s well-being and development. She stresses that her research findings show same-sex headed families demonstrate the presence of such processes and thus are family spaces where children thrive.

Grainne Healy, Chairwoman, Marriage Equality, concluded, “Children with LGBT parents suffer because of the failure of the law to recognise their family. The proposed Children and Family Relationships Bill will provide changes in legislation which will protect same-sex headed families and we welcome this move. We also look forward to the marriage equality referendum in Spring 2015, after which children with LGBT parents will move closer to experiencing equality in law and equal status in Ireland, including the establishment of the right for same-sex couples to have the option of marrying the person they love and provide legislative security for their family.”

Marriage Equality is working to secure equal marriage rights for same-sex couples in Ireland. The LGBT Parenting in Ireland conference was made possible thanks to a grant from The Atlantic Philanthropies Director/Employee Designated Gift Fund. Further information can be found on



Contact: Catherine Heaney, DHR Communications Tel: 01-420 0580/ 087-230 9835