Gay rights campaigners hit out at Irish civil partnership plans

Plans for gay ’marriages’ were today denounced as crumbs from the wedding cake by campaigners insisting they don’t go far enough.

As the Dáil began its debate on the Civil Partnership Bill, the Government was accused of creating a second-class citizenship for same-sex couples.

Dr Mark McCarron, of gay marriage campaign Noise, said while the new legislation would grant some important rights to homosexual couples it would not equal civil weddings.

“The Civil Partnership bill will simply function to further marginalise gay and lesbian people, telling them their relationships are lesser than those of heterosexuals,” he said.

“Frankly, civil marriage is a civil right that all citizens enjoy except gay and lesbian people and we believe this is unfair.”

Dr McCarron said the proposed civil partnerships was creating a whole parallel system for gay relationships.

While the bill allows rights and protections in relation to inheritance, medical rights, taxes and social welfare it contentiously gives no legal recognition for the children of gay couples.

“The most disgusting omission from the bill is the fact it ignores gay and lesbian people have children,” said Dr McCarron.

“A survey recently found 40% of women over 35 and 16% of men over 35, who are gay and lesbian, have children and this bill completely ignores their existence.”

Gay rights organization Glen also hit out at what it branded a critical omission over the lack of legal support and recognition for children being parented by same-sex couples.

Chairman Kieran Rose said they were strongly urging the Government to bridge that gap during the debate but welcomed the overhaul of the law covering gay partnerships.

“This is a major civil rights reform that will resolve many immediate and pressing issues faced by lesbian and gay couples” he said.

“The enactment of this legislation shows again that we are an open and welcoming society and that, even at a time of great economic crisis, we can make significant social progress.”

The Equality Authority described the planned laws as an important and historic step forward for civil rights in Ireland but also underlined the lack of recognition for children.

“In reality, many same-sex couples are already parents,” said Equality Authority chairwoman Angela Kerins.

“Their children will continue to face questions regarding inheritance, guardianship and access, and will remain disadvantaged when compared with other children, including the step-children of a civil marriage."

Christian organisation Evangelical Alliance Ireland said it supported the bill.

Irish Examiner

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