Brian Lenihan, Ireland’s Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, will make his first address to a lesbian and gay audience today when he launches the annual report of the Gay Lesbian Equality Network.

The GLEN report outlines the considerable progress towards legal recognition for same-sex couples and the advances made in other areas including community safety strategies with the Gardaí (Irish police).

The report also highlights new resource guides for inclusion and safety in education and the impact of the Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern’s statements on equality issues.

In 2006 Mr Ahern opened GLEN’s Dublin headquarters, where he committed himself to equality for gay and lesbian citizens.

“Sexual orientation cannot, and must not, be the basis of a second-class citizenship,” he said

“I want to state clearly today that the government is unequivocally in favour of treating gay and lesbian people as fully equal citizens in our society.”

The government has pledged to bring forward a new draft law creating civil unions by March 2008.

“The GLEN report documents the significant increase throughout last year in public support for legal recognition of same-sex couples with 84% supporting change in this area,” said Eoin Collins, director of policy change for GLEN.

“This support has continued throughout this year, spurred on by the Labour Party’s civil union bill and the Minister’s commitment to bringing forward civil partnership proposals in early 2008. We welcome the commitment to speedy delivery of legal recognition.

“GLEN is aiming for a society where being lesbian or gay is unremarkable, where it is possible to be openly gay and be elected to the highest office and achieve success in any field.

“Where a young person can come to terms with their sexuality and have all the support they require from their parents, siblings, friends, school and society at large; where a lesbian or gay couple bringing up a child is unexceptional. The report charts significant progress towards these aims.”