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Taoiseach backs same sex marriage for 2015 referendum

Majority of people are found to be in favour of Gay marriage referendum 2015-Photo; Flickr-Barnacles Hostels

Majority of people are found to be in favour of Gay marriage referendum 2015-Photo by Flickr-Barnacles Hostels

Taosieach Enda Kenny has expressed support for gay marriage legislation after the Government announced its intention to hold a referendum in 2015.

The Taoiseach had previously refused to declare where he stood on the issue but now indicates the Government will be campaigning in favour of same-sex marriage..

The referndum’s announcement comes after the Constitutional Convention vote last April to allow that the constitution should be changed to provide same-sex couples with the right to have civil marriages and not just civil partnerships.

More than 1,500 couples have secured civil partnerships in Ireland since they were introduced in 2010, with Dublin 8 being home to the highest number of civil partnerships in the country.

In June, the convention submitted its report to the cabinet which considered the issue in recent months.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan also voiced his support for the campaign. “If we’ve learned anything we’ve learned that different lifestyles should not only be accepted but celebrated,” he said.

The minister did acknowledge that there may well be an age divide on the issue among the public. “I have met nobody under 40 who is not in favour,”  added Noonan.

The Catholic Church responded by stating it would be campaigning against the proposals, saying that any change of the nature of marriage would “undermine” it as a fundamental building block of society.

Bishop Denis Nulty said the Church would continue to maintain that the differences between man and woman were “not accidental to marriage but fundamental to it”. The Bishop said he believed children had a “natural right to a mother and father” and that this was the best environment for them to be raised.

The Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) and Amnesty International both welcomed the announcement. GLEN chairman Kieran Rose described it as an “historic step”, while Amnesty International said the decision shows the ability of the Constitutional Convention to drive serious reform in Ireland

Polls indicate that over three quarters of the Irish electorate support the introduction of same-sex marriage. The RedC poll suggests that 76 per cent of Irish voters would vote in favour of the amendment, with just 18 per cent opposed to the reforms and a further 6 per cent undecided on the issue.

The vote on same-sex marriages will be held on the same day as a number of other constitutional referendums that are to be held in May 2015. The other amendments to be put before the electorate will also include lowering the voting age to 16.

Image:  Flickr-Barnacles Hostels

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