[QODLink]
Europe

Ireland to hold same-sex marriage referendum

Once staunchly Catholic country to allow vote in 2015, just two decades after legalising homosexuality.

Last Modified: 05 Nov 2013 22:39
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Ireland recognised the rights of same-sex couples in 2009 in a civil partnership bill [File: EPA]

Ireland will hold a referendum on same sex marriage in 2015, just over two decades after the once stridently Catholic country legalised homosexuality, the government has said.

The once dominant role of Catholicism has started to fade after revelations of rape and beatings by members of religious orders and the priesthood and Prime Minister Enda Kenny has even delivered a once-unthinkable rebuke to the Vatican over its handling of the scandals.

Ireland recognised the legal rights of same-sex couples for the first time in 2009 in a civil partnership bill that gave people in long-term relationships many of the statutory rights of married couples.

The move, announced on Tuesday, towards the granting of further rights follows a bitter and polarising campaign over the government's decision earlier this year to allow limited access to abortion that led to large protests from both sides of the debate.

"What the government decided was that by mid-2015, this question ... would be put to the people," Kenny told parliament.

Ireland's junior government party Labour has been a firm supporter of the introduction of same-sex marriage in Ireland. Its leader, Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore, has described it as "the civil rights issue of this generation".

Kenny, who was sent letters written in blood during the abortion campaign, faced down more rebels from his Fine Gael party over the issue than over austerity measures demanded under an international bailout.

Constitution change

Ireland's Constitutional Convention, a new body which recommends future amendments to the constitution, advised the government earlier this year that a referendum should be held.

It added that were the constitution to be amended, legislation should be introduced to address the parentage, guardianship and upbringing of children in families headed by same-sex married parents.

According to a survey conducted last year for Marriage Equality, a group for civil marriage for gay and lesbian people in Ireland, 75 percent of the Irish people would vote yes in a referendum to extend civil marriage to same-sex couples.

"The government announcement sets a process in motion whereby lesbian and gay couples and our families will finally be accepted as equal citizens in Irish law," Kieran Rose of the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network said in a statement.

France's decision to legalise gay marriage was met by some of its largest protests in decades this year, although Pope Francis said recently that the Church must ditch an obsession with condemning homosexuality, contraception and abortion or risk the collapse of its moral edifice.

391

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Featured
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.