An increasing number of gay Irish emigrants are choosing not to return to Ireland because they can’t take their partners with them.

The Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) said that the issue is a huge problem for Irish nationals whose partners cannot live or work in Ireland.

Calls to GLEN about the issue have doubled in the past two years.

According to the Irish Independent, Eoin Collins, a spokesman for the organisation said: “Irish people who have a partner from outside the EU, such as Canada or the US, are having huge problems.

“We are working with somebody at the moment who is employed as a software engineer in Canada. He has been with his partner for 10 years and they’re married.

“The Irish man wants to return to Ireland, but if he does, his partner can only work if he gets a work permit and the employer can only get him one if he proves that he offered the job to almost everyone in Europe.”

The situation is also difficult for Irish people living in Ireland who are in a relationship with a foreign national, as their partners often cannot remain in the country.

Mr Collins gave an example of an Irish man whose Israeli partner of seven years is a qualified architect but can’t get permission to stay in Ireland.

“It’s definitely turning people off returning to Ireland,” he said.

They fear, he added, that their partners’ status “will cause tension in the relationship” because they will become frustrated if they are not allowed to pursue their careers or have to do menial work instead.

Last week the Irish government confirmed it will not legalise gay marriage.

Sean Power, the minister of state for equality, said that marriage could not be redefined in the Constitution to include same-sex unions.

The government will however be introducing a Bill on civil partnerships for same sex couples next year.