A recently former pressure group will protest at the Irish parliament today and present the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) with 1,000 messages demanding full civil marriages for gay people, something the Irish government has ruled out as contrary to the country’s constitution.
Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgendered (LGBT) Noise is highlighting the lack of rights gay couples have in relation to care of children, inheritance, pensions and wills.
Last year Ireland’s Minister of Justice rejected the possibility of a referendum to allow gay marriage.
Brian Lenihan said civil partnership was easier to achieve, because gay marriage would require a constitutional change that would split the country.
Article 41 of the Irish constitution says that:
“The State pledges itself to guard with special care the institution of marriage, on which the family is founded, and to protect it against attack.”
Gay activists argue that it does not give any definition of marriage itself, and thus does not outlaw gay marriage.
Speaking at the annual meeting of the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network last year Mr Lenihan said he was keen to guarantee equality to gay people.
“This government, as our agreed programme reflects, is committed to full equality of opportunity for all in our society.
“In particular, we are committed to providing a more supportive and secure legal environment for same-sex couples” he said.
“I believe equality for same-sex couples can be achieved through a diversity of legal arrangements and I am very keen that in the interests to your community we should proceed now to bring in a law that will give recognition and protection to same sex couples who are involved in loving stable relationships.”
The Minister said that the expected law should allow couples to formalise their relationships, undertake mutual rights and obligations, obtain legal protection and legal benefits for their relationships.
Legislation is expected to be introduced next month March.
Homosexuality was decriminalised in the Republic of Ireland in 1993.
Both discrimination and incitement to hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation are illegal.