A group campaigning for full marriage rights for gay and lesbian people in Ireland has revealed the results of a new survey suggesting widespread support.

MarriagEquality said 81% of those polled believe that all people living in Ireland should receive equal treatment from the state regardless of  their sexual orientation.

Six out of ten people believe that denying marriage to lesbians and gay men is a form of discrimination.

The Irish government has announced that the Civil Partnership legislation will be brought before the Dáil (Parliament) this spring.

The proposed legislation will grant gay and lesbian couples legal recognition in areas such as pensions, social security, property rights, tax, succession and the payment of maintenance.

The government has ruled out gay marriage, claiming that it would require a change to the country’s constitution and a potentially divisive referendum.

MarriagEquality said that 62% of the poll said they would vote in favour of same-sex marriage if a referendum on the issue was held.

“The report is the first of its kind to reveal such unequivocal support for lesbians and gay men having the choice to marry in a civil ceremony in Ireland,” said Grainne Healy, Co-Chair of MarriagEquality.

“The Government has a stated policy of equality and these findings support our call that Government must actively recognise that equality includes the human and civil rights of lesbian women and gay men to marry.

“The findings support MarriagEquality in our search for access, not to religious marriage, but to access marriage in a civil ceremony which will result in equal rights and recognition of our relationships and our children.

“Opponents to civil marriage for lesbians and gay men claim that it should not be legalised as only a married man and woman should raise children.

“However there are many different family types in Ireland, including lesbians and gay parents.

“The Irish public recognise this fact with seven out of ten believing that being raised in a loving home is the key determinant in ensuring that children are happy and well.”

The proposed civil partnership legislation does not codify the parental role and responsibilities of lesbians and gay men to their children.

In Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, civil partnerships have been legal since 2005.

They provide same-sex couples with the same rights and obligations as those attaching to an opposite sex couple, including issues that arise in relation to the care and welfare of children.