Irish gay groups join forces to push equality agenda

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Lesbian and gay rights activists in Ireland are to come together on a short-term campaigning platform entitled “100 Days for Equality.”

The Irish government is expected to bring forward proposals for a form of civil partnerships in the EU nation at the end of March.

The Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) and the National Lesbian Gay Federation (NLGF) are to join forces with new direct action group LGBT Noise and MarriagEquality, a group campaigning for full civil marriage for same sex couples.

The first meeting of the new campaigning platform will be held on Saturday and will focus on street protests and campaigns targeted at politicians.

It is hoped it will foster a sense of solidarity among LGBT groups.

In December Ireland’s Minister of Justice rejected the possibility of a referendum to allow gay marriage.

Brian Lenihan said civil partnership was easier to achieve, because gay marriage would require a constitutional change that would split the country.

Speaking at the annual meeting of GLEN, he said he was keen to guarantee equality to gay people.

“This government, as our agreed programme reflects, is committed to full equality of opportunity for all in our society.

“In particular, we are committed to providing a more supportive and secure legal environment for same-sex couples” he said.

“I believe equality for same-sex couples can be achieved through a diversity of legal arrangements and I am very keen that in the interests to your community we should proceed now to bring in a law that will give recognition and protection to same sex couples who are involved in loving stable relationships.”

The Minister said that the expected law should allow couples to formalise their relationships, undertake mutual rights and obligations, obtain legal protection and legal benefits for their relationships.

GLEN welcomed the Minister’s words, but added that only through marriage it was possible to achieve real equality and that they would continue to ask for it.

GLEN’s Chair Kieran Rose said that his organisation expected “principled, equality-based and comprehensive” legislation.

LGBT Noise are campaigning for full gay marriage, as are MarriagEquality.

Homosexuality was decriminalised in the Republic of Ireland in 1993.

Both discrimination and incitement to hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation are illegal.

Article 41 of the Irish constitution says that:

“The State pledges itself to guard with special care the institution of marriage, on which the family is founded, and to protect it against attack.”

It does not give any definition of marriage itself, and critics argue it does not outlaw gay marriage.

The next 100 Days for Equality Platform meeting will take place at Outhouse, Capel Street, Dublin 1 on Saturday, January 12th from 10.30am to 12.30pm