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Irish parliament approves civil partnerships bill

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  1. 2 cheers for the Republic of Ireland

    This is good news for those same sex couples who urgently need to have their relationships recognised. It will provide some important rights to same sex couples in terms of succession; next of kin, family home etc

    But we must not think it is a cause for celebration.

    Today the Republic of Ireland has legalised apartheid against same sex couples. Same sex couples are still denied access to the legal contract of civil marriage purely because they are gay.

    And discrimination against children is now fully legal in Irish law.

    Unlike the Civil Partnership Apartheid scheme in the UK the Irish system makes no allowance for the children of same sex couples. Therefore if a hypothetical lesbian couple – Mindy and Mandy have 2 children together through artificial insemination then ONLY the biological mother has rights and responsibilities towards those children. If Mindy is the biological mother, and is in a CP with Mandy and both are raising the 2 children and if Mindy dies in a carcrash then the 2 children have no claim on Mandy. She is not required to provide for those children if she does not want to (unlike the situation for heterosexual stepparents in a similar case). Even if she wants to care for her 2 children, Mandy may not be allowed to do so.

    It is theoretically possible that the state can intervene and take her 2 children into care. Even though Mandy was in a CP with Mindy, because she is a lesbian she has no rights or responsibilities towards those children.

    It is shameful and embarrassing that children can now be discriminated against because of society’s prejudice against gay people.

    A majority of Irish people support full marriage equality. Which makes me wonder why the Irish government decided on the late 20th century idea of civil partnership.

    While the Civil Partnership Apartheid Law should be regarded as an important stepping stone on the road to equality, it is not the final destination.

    Thankfully Ireland’s leading gay-rights charity – GLEN – is actually in favour of full marriage equality and while they support the CP Apartheid Bill, they still want full equality. They are not actively campaigning against equality like Stonewall does in the UK

    And it doesn’t look like the equality campaign is disappearing in Ireland.

    The 2nd Annual March For Marriage will take place in Dublin on Sunday 22nd August. Last year’s march attracted 5,000. Hopefully this year will be even bigger.

    The government must not be allowed to think that our demands for full equality for our relationships and our children have been satisfied.

  2. A step forward but not far enough. It is encouraging though StephenC, that there is a movement in Ireland for full civil marriage equality. You’re right, we have none of that in the UK. I suspect Ireland will get there long before we will. After all, we already have three catholic countries allowing us to marry which totally debunks the nonsense spewed by StonewallUK and their supporters as well as successive governments that there would be a huge backlash from the state cult which would result in no rights. Its nothing more than a refusal to lift the ban on our marrying and kowtowing to the religious bigots for fear of offending their beliefs. Pure cowardice!

  3. The Netherlands
    South Africa
    5 states in the US
    Mexico City
    1 state in Argentine

    The movement is towards full equality.

    Ireland would have been applauded if they introduced CP’s about 12 years ago.

    These days CP legislation for gay couples can be viewed as a mark of shame against a country as it shows that the country believes its gay citizens should be regarded as 2nd class citizens.

    And in Ireland’s case the CP law shows that Ireland believes that discrimination against children based on their parents’ sexuality it also justifiable.

    It is a victory but it really feels like a hollow victory that instead of promoting equality is in fact codifying discrmination against same sex couples and their children.

  4. Today I received the following email from LGBTNoise – a direct action, Irish campaigning group about the CP Bill:

    “Date: Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 11:51 PM
    Subject: M4M August 22nd 2010

    Hi everyone,

    Tomorrow is the day Civil Partnership will be voted in by the Dail. Noise believes that LGBT people shouldn’t have to settle for half measures and second-class citizenship. So today we announce the date of the March for Marriage 2010, Sunday 22nd of August!

    Last year a vibrant crowd of over five thousand people marched through the streets of the capital demanding full equality in the form of civil marriage.

    Civil Partnership lacks many of the rights of Civil Marriage. The children of LGBT families are ignored by this bill. Civil Partnership forces vulnerable couples to participate in their own discrimination out of a basic necessity to protect themselves in whatever way they can. A separate system for certain citizen sends the message out to the rest of society that LGBT people can be treated differently and discriminated against in other areas.

    Noise asks all those who support equal rights to gather their friends and family together to march with Noise on August 22nd. Further details and after-march party to be announced. Add LGBT Noise on Facebook or join our mailing list for updates.

    Love and noise,

    The Noise Team”

  5. The introduction of civil partnerships in Ireland is a worthy move, but totally unhelpful at this point. True equality is now becoming the norm in the human rights movement here in Europe and it’s sad Ireland has decided to sheepishly follow Britain into creating both an apartheid-type system (not to suggest by that choice of phrase too much similarity to the South African system) AND flies in the face of religious freedom for LGBT people.

    So looks like we’ll need to get the United Kingdom to lead the way in these islands.. I’ve started an entry on Your Freedom requesting the Government removes the necessary Section to allow marriage equality. It can be found here

  6. “So looks like we’ll need to get the United Kingdom to lead the way in these islands.”

    Well in fairness there is already a very active marriage equality movement in Ireland which does not seem to have taken off in Britain (in my view this is due to Stonewall’s craven refusal to support equality for same sex couples. )

    Check out:

    GLEN – the Irish version of Stonewall is in favour of marriage equality – unlike Stonewall.

    And there is broader support for marriage equality among Irish people than there appears to be in Britain – there is another large marriage equality demonstration on August 22nd.

    I remember the sense of excitment in the UK when the CP’s were brought in.

    The time for CP’s is over though. There will be precious little celebtration among the LGBT community in Ireland I suspect.

    I expect the attitude will be more along the lines of ‘Well thanks for that. Now why are you discrminating against me because I am gay? And why are you discriminating against my child because of the fact that I am gay?’

  7. The “Banana Republic” does it again. Half hearted attempt to rectify a real probleme.

    I can see it in 4/5 years, the partner of another who died, going all the way to the Supreme Court here fighting to get he or she recognised as the “legal guardian” of the children, they raised together.

    If the Supreme Court, were to rule in favour, it would have major implications on our Constitution and the recognition of a family

    The same year that homosexuality was legalised in the Republic, we had the referendum on the “X-Case” and abortion. 17 years, on the government still hasn’t legislated for it. that is what we are dealing with in this country.

    Civil marriage for same-sex couples? another 20 years at least, lads!

  8. It is a step forwards, but it is sad that they couldn’t have embraced full marriage equality now. It seems such a waste of time and resources to do this knowing it is only a halfway house.

  9. glad to hear that GLEN are still actively seeking full equality, the CP in Ireland is a great thing and I’ve also been told that they will recognise the British CP as well and a fair amount of other foreign CP/marriage – not sure as what though, I guess it will be the equivalent of the half hearted recognition that the British govt gives to foreign marriages etc….

    Why isn’t Stonewall following GLEN and persuing gay marriage… why isn’t the lab and the labour gay organisations chaning their stance on gay marriage, we just don’t have any major opposition to the Tory coalition at the moment when it comes to LGBT issues ….

  10. Although I recognise that this isn’t the Bill we all may have wanted, but it’s still an important step in the right direction. Irish politics in general are backward and borderline uncomfortable when it comes to LGBT rights and I’m happy enough that this was passed through yesterday because it means extensions and additions can be added more quickly now.

    Without sounding too offensive, but a large portion of our TD’S are from rural constituencies where in the past week they’d be furious about the ban of deer hunting and indifferent at best towards Civil Partnerships. It may not be a leap forward but I reckon things will pick up pace now.

  11. So long as the LGBT community does not sit back and relax now that we have apartheid I think the quest for full equality is certainly not over.

    The fact that the CP Bill in Ireland codifies discrimination against children, means that there will be no complacency.

    The fact that the state can remove children from the care of their non-biological parent solely based on that parent’s sexual orientation means that this new Bill is clearly inadequate.

    And thankfully there is no appalling group like Stonewall in Ireland – a group who claim to support equality for LGB people but whose function is mainly to convince gay people that we should be happy being 2nd class citizens.

    The March for Marriage is on 22nd August in Dublin. You should all come over for it.

  12. Although it’s not as far-reaching as it could be, in the short term this bill will make life easier for me and my Russian partner in terms of travelling home to Ireland. Until now, we’ve been really frustrated by the fact that our partnership is recognised north of the border, but not in the south.

  13. The Minister for Justice and Law Reform will have the power over which legally recognised relationships of gay couples will be recognised as civil partnerships in Ireland. U.K. civil partnersgips cannot be automatically recognised as U.K. law permits people who were previously related by marriage to form a civil partnership or marry while Irish law prohibits this. This civil partnership bill is progress but notenough.

  14. John… Labour were in power for 13 years. They are the people who went and said no to marriage equality. They are the people who brought in the system we now need to fight against. They did lots of nice things, but looking to them to change things is a bit like looking to a former abusive partner for love. No thanks. At least we have a Deputy PM now who supports marriage equality. Progress, if not enough.

  15. Paschal – run that past me again – “uk law permits people who were previously related by marriage to form a civil partnership…” Marriage in the UK is between man and woman, gays can only do CPs , how could you be married then do a CP in the UK??…

    I was told awhile ago that although which foreign relationships will be recognised is as yet undefined, but will be updated from time to time by the Minister once the legislation is passed. The GLEN analysis commissioned for the Bill suggests that the Minister would recognise most same-sex Civil Marriages and Civil Partnerships from other countries(, Chapter 3).

  16. Jae – Any major party with any hint of bringing in gay marriage would be nice! I agree with you about labour , their negative response to the issue of gay marriage has left me dumbfounded (also Stonewall’s!) – I keep remembering Brown’s reply to the question posed in pinknews where he said somehting like labour would not consider it becuase they had to balance gay marriage with relgious views ….! they also seem to be set on interferring internationally and have argued recently in an Austrian case saying that marriage is the exlusive right of different sex couples…

  17. “how could you be married then do a CP in the UK??…”

    If you were married to someone of the opposite sex then divorced and got a CP with your new same sex partner, maybe? Not as uncommon as you’d think (which is another story). Is that what’s meant? I’m not sure.

    But I too would like some more details on the point Paschal was making too because I didn’t quite get the rest of it (I don’t know much about Irish law).

  18. Irish Senators have been quoted as saying they have never met a nastier bunch of anti-civil partnership protestors as those encountered outside the Dail. The homophobes dont get that this works greatly against them whern encountering civilised people! Spewing their biblical hatreds at elected Members of Parliament is not the way to make friends in high places! lol There was a tragic photo of a young lady holding a sign with the favourite Leviticus quote! What a sad creature, with obviously little to do and little in her life.

  19. StephenC:
    > And there is broader support for marriage equality among Irish
    > people than there appears to be in Britain…
    > I remember the sense of excitment in the UK when the CP’s were
    > brought in.

    I remember how impossible it was to get any of the LGB media to pay any attending to the inequality of it, how no one seemed to notice the prejudice in the parliamentary debates, how convinced most were they were getting equality and a future of fluffy pink weddings. The so-called gay press were totally silent on the difference and downside. They even called it marriage. And they still are – this report on Ireland doesn’t bother with any of the inequality implications.

  20. Good to know that GLEN intends to continue towards equal marriage. Of course the Irish government will have been advised by the UK government that going for CP is the way to prevent equal marriage, because it takes away the pressure by who wish to protect money and property in the event of one partner’s demise, leaving the equality campaign almost unfunded and without most celebrity support.

    Which is probably why we don;t have any formal group on our side. But we do seem to be getting visibility, at last.

  21. Although it is not a great excuse, we should bear in mind that legalising same-sex marriage in Ireland would be much more difficult than it would be in, for example, the UK. This is because marriage is already defined in the Constitution as a union between a man and a woman, and changing that definition would require a referendum. Such a referendum would face the prospect of failure for us pro-marriage equality and the campaign and its aftermath could get very ugly.

  22. We shouldn’t forget that most countries that have gay marriage now started off with some form of civil union, they didn’t jump into gay marriage as a first step.. but the gay community and gay organisations continued to put pressure on the government to introduce gay marriage despite any preceived probems, despite the fact that in those countries the civil unions they had gave them tax benefits, inheritance benefits etc and as one person above said relieved the pressure to do anything more. It is appalling that Stonewall and others are not fighting for full equality and a progression to gay marriage. Ireland may have more problems than us to introduce it but it’s good that GLEN don’t see this as an excuse to stop fighting for full equality. What excuse is Stonewall and others giving….. being “adequate” is not good enough! Why isn’t lab changing its stance on gay marriage, I know it’s unlikely they’ll be in power for a long time but if they ever do then I’d like them to start saying somehting more positve about gay marriage otherwise I’m not sure they will ever get the gay vote again….

  23. The Irish government wanted to have gay marriage. But there needed to be an amendment to the Irish Constitution which can only be done with a referendum. So they decided to go with Civil Partnerships instead.

  24. “Although it is not a great excuse, we should bear in mind that legalising same-sex marriage in Ireland would be much more difficult than it would be in, for example, the UK. This is because marriage is already defined in the Constitution as a union between a man and a woman, and changing that definition would require a referendum. ”

    This is not strictly true.

    There is not specifical clause in the constitution which states ‘A marriage can only be between 1 man and 1 woman’. The clauses in question simply refer to spouses as ‘he’ and ‘she’.

    Bear in mind that the Irish constitutuion was written in the 1930’s. It also refers to the Irish President as ‘he’ throughout. There was no demand or need to hold a referendum on whether Mary Robinson should be allowed to run for the Irish Presidency in 1990.

    Likewise with same sex civil marriage.

    The ONLY reason the government is spouting this claim about a referendum is because they lack the political will for equality.

    The Irish Labour Party support marriage equality. They are doing very well in the polls these days.

    The Green Party officially supports marriage equality but they still betrayed the LGBT community when they went into government and now support civil partnership apartheid.

    The pressure must be kept on the government.

    The LGBT movement in Ireland is not being hindered in their quest by discrminatory LGBT groups such as Stonewall in the UK.

    If we keep the pressure up then if Labour are in coalition after the next election (only a couple of years at a maximum) then we may be in a good position to get equality.

  25. no 23: Phillip: “But there needed to be an amendment to the Irish Constitution which can only be done with a referendum. So they decided to go with Civil Partnerships instead.”

    That is not true.

    That is the government’s EXCUSE for introducing civil partnership apartheid instead of equality.

    It is not the job of the Irish government to decide what is constitutional. That is the job for the Supreme Court.

    The government should legislate for marriage equality tomorrow. You can bet your life that a challenge will be issued to the supreme court.

    If this was to happen there would already be several same sex marriages in place. The Supreme Court would not interpret the consitutuion as excluding marriage for gay people.

  26. Although the Ieish Constitution does refer to the President as”he” throughout, it also specifically states that both men and women citizens can run for the office. The Irish Supreme Court is not like the U.S. Supreme Court, i.e., it tends not to make big decisions. It has although made very good decisions for human rights in the past. It is unknown how it would interpret the supposed prohibition of marriage equality.

    The ”prohinition” reads:
    Article 41
    1° 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.

    That is about as clear as the Pacific Ocean is small. The Attorney General has advised that marriage equality would be unconstitutional and the Irish Labour party received the same advice independent of the Attorney General. The statutory Law Reform Commission, however, has stated that only by granting gay couples more rights than staright couples would marriage eqaulity be unconstitutional. The current Irish Governemnt wouldn’t legalise marriage equality even if the constitution weren’t as it is. This is due to conservatism within the main party, Fianna Fáil, and cowardice, although things are progressing. Its youth wing, Ógra Fianna Fáil, voted unanimously to back marriage equality and it published a policy document in faviur of various gay rights issues includng adoption by gay couples.

    Pressure must be put on the Irish Governemnt to hold a referendum. Irish people are more progresive than you think. The Green Party, by the way, is responsible for this bill even passing. For only having six seats out of 166 (sort of 165), it has achieved a lot. Members have made it clear that this bill does not go far enough. By the way, there isn’t a chance in hell of me, as an Irish citizen, voting for Labour. I agree with some social policies of the party but it has refused to take difficult positions so as to be popular. It’s only popular because it has said ”no” to basically everything. The Irish Governemnt is taking difficult decisions to fix the economy.

  27. But the Irish constitution also says that all citizens must be treated equally.

    Therefore if a separate clause states that marriage can only be between opposite sex couples then this clause is unconstitutional as it means that gay couples are not being treated equally.

    in any case the idea that my rights can be subject to popular vote is horrifically offensive and scary.

    I will never vote Green again. Their raison d’etre was the environment. Well their environmental policies have been oo-opted by all the other parties so there’s no need to vote for them because of the environment any more.

    And I regard their acceptance of civil partnership apartheid as a betrayal of the LGBT population.

    Marriage equality should have been non-negotiable for them in their pre-coalition discussions.

    it turns out it wasn’t.

  28. Enda Crowley 11 Jul 2010, 12:35am

    StephenC you are very vitriolic against the Irish Green Party yet the Greens have done more for LGBT people than the Labour party has done. Labour were in government in the nineties and they could have acted then. They have to contend with their coalition partners Fine Gael after the next election who are not in favour of same sex marriage. The Greens did try to negotiate with Fianna Fail for same sex marriage but that wasn’t on the table, instead they have brought in a very good civil partnership. It is hardly betrayal of the LGBT population. Funny way to applaud the most vigorous policy towards equality from any party in Irish history you have. Re your claim that their policies have been co-opted by the other parties. That’s nonsense. All the other parties have voted for incineration at local level, engaged in bad planning and oppose water metering – in other words the same old populism that wins elections and obviously therefore means bad environmental policy in practice.

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