The Irish minister for Justice and Equality has said that laws preventing same-sex couples from adopting are “discriminatory” and make “little sense.”

Alan Shatter spoke recently on Ireland’s decision to consider a secondary piece of legislation potentially extending adoption rights to civil partners who cannot currently adopt under law.

Discussing the issue with Frances Fitzgerald, the children’s minister, he said he hoped that dealing with the issue of adoption through the Oireachtas would ensure that questions and challenges would not “dominate” the debate on same-sex marriage, due for a referendum in 2015.

They debated whether the issue should be dealt through a newly drafted bill or as an amendment to the Adoption Act 2010, to be included in the Family Relationships Bill.

Mr Shatter said: “A law which permits the adoption of a child by an individual who is gay but excludes the adoption of a child by a same-sex couple makes little sense and can properly be regarded as discriminatory.”

Also speaking on RTE’s The Week in Politics recently, he said there are a whole range of issues in the children’s law which while not “uniquely relating” to the same-sex marriage debate, “do affect that area.”

He added there was a danger of these issues getting confused in a referendum on marriage equality.

“They are issues that have to be addressed, whether or not we have a referendum on gay marriage, whether or not the majority of people support it,” he said.

“We will also be addressing issues that the legislation enacted in 2010, relating to co-habitees and gay partners didn’t address, which was the children of their relationships.”

In January, the minister showed his support for same-sex marriage, saying: “I personally believe that a democratic republic that professes a commitment to the principle of equal citizenship should not continue to prevent same-sex couples from entering into a legal partnership that is legally recognised and designated as being a marriage.”

He also added on the matter of adoption rights: “There is a need to reform and bring clarity to issues related to parentage, guardianship and custody of children of gay couples.”