A group that advocates gay marriage in the Republic of Ireland has called on heterosexuals to take part in a protest march in Dublin on Sunday.

(LGBT) Noise, a politically non-affiliated protest organisation, oppose plans to introduce civil partnerships, which are legal in the UK, which includes Northern Ireland.

Instead they want civil marriage.

“This is not just a gay rights issue – it is a human rights issue,” said march organiser Noelle Moran.

“The right to marry is ensrhined in Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but gay people in Ireland are currently denied that right.

“Sexual orientation is not a lifestyle choice – you have no more power to choose it then to choose the colour of your skin, and it is just as wrong to discriminate on this basis as it is to discriminate on the basis of race.”

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

Other LGBT and human rights groups are expected to join the march, which begins at City Hall and will finish with a rally outside the Department of Justice.

Ireland’s gay community has divided over the issue of civil partnerships since the legislation was published in June.

The Gay and Lesbian Equality Network, Ireland’s largest LGBT group, said it “strongly welcomed” the Civil Partnership Bill.

“This is a major civil rights reform that will resolve many immediate and pressing issues faced by lesbian and gay couples,” said Kieran Rose, Chair of GLEN.

“Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Dermot Ahern and the Government are to be congratulated on bringing forward this complex and comprehensive legislation and committing to its early enactment.”

He added that “all political parties” played a role in “getting us to this point.”

Mr Ahern said:

“Publication of the Bill implements a commitment in the Agreed Programme for Government to legislate for Civil Partnerships.

“The Bill provides very significant rights to civil partners which raises complex legal issues in the context of the special protection which the Constitution guarantees to marriage and in relation to the equality rights protected by Article 40.1 of the Constitution.

“The Bill has been carefully framed to balance any potential conflict between these two constitutionally guaranteed rights.”

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.