Bill “not a stepping stone to marriage” – Minister
Hat-tip goes to Maman Poulet who flagged this yesterday. On this, the eve of the Dublin Pride march 2009 (well timed, Dermot), keep your eyes on justice.ie at around noon/lunchtime to get the first look at the published Civil Partnership Bill. (It may also appear on Oireachtas.ie although there’s no indication as to when.)
The Bill is thought to fall short of the needs of same-sex couples and families, for example not catering for same-sex couples who have children, or dealing with the issue of adoption. Yesterday, we saw protesters at Dáil Éireann, opposed to the fact that the Bill won’t provide full equality for lesbian and gay couples. Today, The Irish Times front page reports that the Green Party is in a bit of a huff about the Bill not going as far as they had hoped. Gosh, if only there were a party in government whose election mandate was for full equality for same-sex relationships. Oh yes, that’s you, Greens. Too little, too late.
Keep watch here for analysis of the Bill as soon as we can get our grubby little mitts on it!
The Bill has now been published, along with an explanatory memo:
- Civil Partnership Bill 2009 as initiated (PDF format)
- Civil Partnership Bill 2009 Explanatory Memorandum
The Bill may be amended as it proceeds through the houses of An tOireachtas (the Dáil and Seanad). We’ll try to give our own comments as and when we can read through it. In the meantime, please feel free to give your own opinions and thoughts in the comments!
Update 2 – 1:26pm:
Newstalk 106 FM are due to have a panel discussion on the Bill soon, it appears – You can tune in on the radio, or listen via their website. (Nothing yet on RTÉ Radio 1, as far as I’m aware.)
Newstalk 106 FM headlines at 1:30pm quote Minister Dermot Ahern as saying that Civil Partnerships “are not a stepping stone to gay marriage”.
“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, who said the Government were to be congratuled “on bringing forward this complex and comprehensive legislation and committing to its early enactment”.
[ ... ]
However GLEN said a remaining concern was the issue of legal support and recognition of the many children being parented by same-sex couples.
“Inclusion of legal recognition of children being parented by same-sex couples will be critical for the welfare of these children” said Rose.
LGBT Noise have now issued a press release concerning the Bill. Read it here. The statement includes:
Noise believes that this bill will only serve to cement inequality for gay and lesbian people by explicitly excluding them from the primary social insitution of marriage, and that it is nothing but state-endorsed discrimintaion. Gay couples should not be forced into a situation where they are made to participate in their own discrimination out of urgent necessity to regularise their legal arrangements.
MarriagEquality.ie have accused the government of “short-changing” lesbians and gay men with this bill:
Following the publication of the civil partnership bill today, MarriagEquality is calling on the Government to acknowledge that the bill is forcing lesbians and gay men to accept a second rate set of rights, and ensures that lesbian and gay relationships will be regarded as inferior to married couples. MarriagEquality advocate that the Government instead move to provide lesbians and gay men with equality by providing access to civil marriage.
Research conducted by Lansdowne Market Research shows that 81% of the public agree that everyone should receive equal treatment from the state regardless of their sexuality. 61% further believe that denying lesbians and gay men civil marriage is a form of discrimination.
Grainne Healy, Co-Chair, MarriagEquality, commented, “MarriagEquality want equal marriage rights for lesbians and gay men. Civil partnership is not marriage like, and does not confer marriage like rights on lesbians and gay men who choose to legally register their relationship through it. The civil partnership legislation is deficient on so many levels and discriminates against lesbians, gay men and their children to such an extent that MarriagEquality are calling on to Government to legislate for civil marriage now.”
A deeply upsetting aspect of the civil partnership legislation is that the Government has totally ignored lesbian and gay parents and their children. In reality all children should have equal access to their parents and vice-versa, and should have the same rights as all children in Ireland. 75% of the public believe that all children should be treated equally by the state. Furthermore, a same-sex couple will not be eligible to apply to be considered to adopt a child under civil partnership: not even the child of their registered civil partner.
Update 8 – 5:55pm:
(Thanks to HAL for adding all my updates while I’ve been offline!)
Courtesy, once again, from MamanPoulet, Minister Ahern – who today has stated clearly that the Civil Partnership Bill is “not a stepping stone to marriage” and that marriage is “preserved” and “guarded” – was in 1993 opposed to the decriminalisation of homosexuality. Yes indeed, and this is a matter of public record.
After quoting from the Irish constitution, Bunreacht na hÉireann (Articles 40.1, 41.1.2º, and 45), Ahern who was then a backbencher went on about his “not being intolerant” (in fact, “Anyone who knows me well knows that I am a very tolerant person”) and about “the common good.”
He said, “We seem to have reached the stage where we are legislating for pressure and minority groups.” And he said, “We have a duty to legislate for the standards and norms which we regard as appropriate for the Irish people. This does not necessarily have to include all the people, but we should strive to achieve a certain standard and norm in our society.”
The deputy went on to talk about “the breakdown of society” and “protecting the family unit,” and even managed to include reference to the murder of Jamie Bolger.
Just before he ended his speech he said:
Mr. D. Ahern: Much play is made of the word “equality”, for example, equality in regard to the age limit. I wonder if this issue will end here. Will the pressure groups which have succeeded in having this legislation brought before the House stop here? I think not. Will we eventually see the day in this country when, as has happened in the USA, homosexuals will seek the right to adopt children? We should think seriously about this possibility.
I have a problem with the age limit of 17 years. I appreciate that the Minister is endeavouring to equalise the age limits for both homosexuals and heterosexuals. However, under the child care legislation passed by this House a child is defined as anyone under the age of 18 years. We should bear this in mind.
Oh yes, and when the now Minister began his speech on that day – almost to the day – back in 1993, he said, “I do not often find myself in agreement with my constituency colleague, Deputy McGahon, but on this occasion I am.” With what was he agreeing, you may ask?
Mr. McGahon: Homosexuality is a departure from normality and while homosexuals deserve our compassion they do not deserve our tolerance. That is how the man in the street thinks. I know of no homosexual who has been discriminated against. Such people have a persecution complex because they know they are different from the masses or normal society. They endure inner torment and it is not a question of the way others view them.
The Lord provided us with sexual organs for a specific purpose. Homosexuals are like left hand drivers driving on the right hand side of the road. The Minister should seek a derogation from the ruling of the European Court to prevent this unacceptable legislation being foisted on the Irish people. I remind the Minister that the age of consent has been reduced to 12 years in Holland. Will we have to accept such an appalling move in years to come? Many Members of the Minister’s party are very unhappy about this legislation although some of them have expressed their support for it. The Minister should put the issue to the people in a referendum.
Make of all that what you will..
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