The leader of Ireland’s Green party has said that civil partnerships for gay and lesbian couples are “a step towards full equality.”

However, John Gormley indicated that there are disagreements between the main governing party Fianna Fail and the Greens, their junior coalition partners.

Speaking at the launch of Dublin’s Pride festival, Mr Gormley said the delay in publishing the proposed new legislation was due to the complexity of the issue.

The Irish government was expected to produce a draft bill by March.

However, a change of Prime Minister and a Cabinet reshuffle have both added to the delays.

Ireland’s Department of Justice told the Irish Times:

“The Attorney General has given advice to the Department of Justice which includes very detailed views in relation to the proposed legislation. It is currently being examined by the department.”

The Greens support full gay marriage in Ireland, while the government contends that aid civil partnership is easier to achieve, because gay marriage would require a constitutional change that would split the country.

Homosexuality was decriminalised in the Republic of Ireland in 1993.

Both discrimination and incitement to hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation are illegal.

Article 41 of the Irish constitution states:

“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.”