Advocates of same-sex civil marriage in Ireland made their voices heard at rallies in the capital Dublin and in Cork, Galway and Waterford on Saturday.

Last week the Irish government released proposed new legislation to legalise civil partnerships in the country.

While the biggest gay rights group, Gay and Lesbian Equality Network, broadly welcomed the proposals, other groups such as LGBT Noise say they do not go far enough.

Noise member Mark McCarron said: “This scheme would pigeon-hole gay couples into a separate, inferior system of recognition.

“It perpetuates the outdated view that gay and lesbian relationships are somehow not as worthy as those of their heterosexual counterparts, it ignores the needs and rights of their children and it denies gay couples the special protection granted to married couples under the constitution.”

Last week another group, MarriagEquality, said the proposed legislation will leave the children of lesbian and gay parents “in limbo,” with no constitutional or legal recognition, or protection.

The group also claims that by creating a separate legal status for same-sex couples, the government is reinforcing inequality.

GLEN said they share MarriagEquality’s concern that the proposed legislation does not provide for legal recognition of the many same-sex couples, in particular women, who are parenting children together.

“Comprehensive civil partnership is a major milestone towards equality,” said GLEN’s Kieran Rose.

“The goal of GLEN is access to full equality through civil marriage and this Bill is a fundamental step forward towards this goal.”

LGBT Noise member Lisa O’Connell said ahead of the rallies on Saturday:

“The government has been hiding behind a claim that same-sex marriage will be unconstitutional, but the constitution does not define marriage as being between a man and a woman.

“It is for the Supreme Court, and not the government, to decide on matters of constitutionality.”

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.”

It does not give any definition of marriage itself, and critics and constitutional scholars argue it does not outlaw gay marriage.

Homosexuality was decriminalised in the Republic of Ireland in 1993.

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

A full Bill should be ready to go before the Dail, or Irish parliament, in the autumn and made law within a year.

The Civil Partnership Bill would give gay and lesbian couples greater rights and control over pensions, inheritance and tax, but adoption rights would not be given to same-sex couples.