Ireland’s first same-sex weddings could take place by November, after legislation was introduced to the Irish Parliament today.
The country overwhelmingly voted in favour of equality in May this year, in a public referendum on same-sex marriage.
The government had pledged to legislate to permit weddings as soon as possible – but the plans were hit by delays due to a legal challenge to the ruling, and Parliamentary recess.
The Marriage Equality Bill was introduced to the Dáil (lower house) today, paving the way for weddings in the next few months.
If the process goes smoothly, weddings could begin as soon as November.
Gráinne Healy of Marriage Equality told Newstalk: “It’s a proud moment to be Irish, it’s a proud moment to be able to say this is something that has been introduced because the people in Ireland in such huge numbers voted for it.
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“I think everyone in Ireland can be proud today, that we’re now seeing this crucial legislation, which wil clear the path for same-sex marriages, which will be able to take place – we’re hoping by November.”
Introducing the bill, Irish justice minister Frances Fitzgerald said: “Marriage will not be weakened by people who passionately wish to be able to marry.
“Our concept of family will not be damaged by being more inclusive. Instead, marriage has been strengthened, and made responsive to the needs of the 21st Century.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Justice previously said the weddings would still hopefully go ahead “before the end of this year”.
The spokesperson said: “The first same-sex marriages will be those of couples who convert a notification of their intention to register a civil partnership into a notification of their intention to marry.
“The aim is to have the Bill enacted as quickly as possible, subject to the legislative process, so that the first same-sex marriages can take place this year.”
Ireland’s government this month put its revolutionary new Gender Recognition Act into effect – meaning today transgender people can gain legal recognition without seeing a doctor.
The bold new Gender Recognition Bill, which passed through Parliament in July without issue, includes sweeping changes to allow transgender people to self-declare their gender.
The form to apply for an Irish GRC is just two pages long – compared to other countries, where the process is often full of bureaucratic hurdles. The two-page form compares to the five pages you’d have to fill out to replace a missing pensions book.