A group campaiging for gay marriage in Ireland has criticised the government after the publication of the civil partnership bill.

MarriagEquality said the legislation will “force” lesbians and gay men to accept a second rate set of rights and instead they should be given access to civil marriage.

Grainne Healy, Co-Chair, MarriagEquality, said:

“MarriagEquality want equal marriage rights for lesbians and gay men.

“Civil partnership is not marriage like, and does not confer marriage like rights on lesbians and gay men who choose to legally register their relationship through it.

“The civil partnership legislation is deficient on so many levels and discriminates against lesbians, gay men and their children to such an extent that MarriagEquality are calling on to Government to legislate for civil marriage now.”

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.

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

MarriagEquality said it was a “deeply upsetting aspect of the civil partnership legislation … has totally ignored lesbian and gay parents and their children. In reality all children should have equal access to their parents and vice-versa, and should have the same rights as all children in Ireland.

“75% of the public believe that all children should be treated equally by the state. Furthermore, a same-sex couple will not be eligible to apply to be considered to adopt a child under civil partnership: not even the child of their registered civil partner.”