IRELAND

Irish Students Urge TDs to ‘Vote for Fairness’ on Civil Unions

 

Labour Youth and Civil Liberties Council throw weight behind Bill
 

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Government to oppose Bill

DUBLIN, February 20, 2007  –  As TD’s (MPs) assembled at the Dáil ahead of this evening’s debate on Labour’s ‘private members bill on Civil Unions, the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) is strongly advising TDs to “vote for fairness”

“TDs must banish fear and intolerance from their debate on Civil Unions,” said Steve Conlon, USI’s lesbian and gay spokesperson.

“If every member of the public is to retain full confidence in their local TD, then their local TD must vote for fairness.

“Every TD claims to believe in equal rights for all citizens, and the public expects them to vote accordingly.  Eligible voters will turn to the voting record on Thursday to see that all TDs have put principle before prejudice,” he added.

The USI has already indicated that it intends to publish an audit of TDs’ votes For/Against the Bill soon after voting takes place.

Voters – who overwhelmingly endorse Civil Unions for lesbian and gay couples in an opinion poll published at the end of December – could interpret the audit as a “roll call of the principled”, according to the student group.

“Irish people from every walk of life are behind lesbian and gay citizens,” commented USI President Colm Hamrogue

“Like USI, the public strongly wants the Civil Unions Bill to go forward and become law.

“Ultimately, equal marriage rights for all must be the goal for Irish society, with an end to every vestige of legal discrimination that afflicts lesbian and gay people.

“But in the short term, the Civil Unions Bill offers a really significant improvement over the status quo.

“Students are strongly advising TDs on this matter – do not thwart the public wish for fairness,” he added.

The Dáil debates the Civil Union Bill this evening from 7pm (Dublin/UK time).  The debate will continue tomorrow (February 21) at the same time, with the vote being taken at about 8.30pm.

The Labour Party in Dublin is reporting this afternoon that all tickets to the public gallery of the Dáil have been allocated.

ICCL Welcomes Dáil Debate

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties has welcomed the Dáil debate on the Civil Unions Bill, which seeks to improve the rights of same sex couples.

Mr. Mark Kelly, Director, Irish Council for Civil Liberties, said the Bill provided a significant opportunity to debate the need for constitutional and legislative reform to tackle the inequalities faced by same sex couples.

“This is the first time that the Dáil will debate such legislation following upon recommendations from a report by the Working Group on Domestic Partnership, which was published last November. The ICCL has consistently campaigned for legal recognition of the partnership rights of everyone living in Ireland,” he said.

“This debate is an important step towards achieving our ultimate goal of an express right for all persons to marry and found a family in accordance with the law, irrespective of gender identity or sexual orientation,” he added.

The ICCL is campaigning for constitutional reform and legislative reform to prioritise children’s rights and to ensure that all persons have the right to marry and found a family, regardless of their sexual identity or orientation.

Labour Youth Expresses Support

Speaking  in  advance  of the debate, Labour Youth Vice-Chair, Neil Ward said:  “The  Civil  Unions  Bill  being  introduced  by the Labour Party represents the first significant commitment by a political party in this state, to equality of treatment for same-sex couples.

“We warmly welcome  this legislation as a first step towards achieving full equality of opportunity for those couples.

"Labour Youth, in conjunction with Labour LGBT and Labour Equality have been campaigning for some time for a referendum to be held on a constitutional amendment to allow for same-sex marriage.  We believe that this legislation represents a first step in that direction, and that it clearly illustrates the Government’s lack of commitment to date in this area.

“We  call on all deputies, including members of the Government parties, to support  the Bill.  Both Taoiseach and Tánaiste have commented on the need  for  such legislation in recent years, so we are hopeful that they will  display  their  support  for the LGBT community by supporting this Bill.  The  Labour Party has  produced a comprehensive Bill which will deliver  real  equality of treatment for countless couples who urgently require such protections.

“Same-sex  couples have been abandoned by the state for long enough.  The Civil Unions Bill is a massive step towards correcting that situation, and a step which should be embraced by all,” he said.

The Irish Government said this afternoon that it will be opposing the Bill.

■ The debate can be seen world-wide on the Houses of the Oireachtas website.  Go to the Oireachtas pilot live webcasts page and select  either the telecast or audio only for “OBU1 Dáil Éireann”

The Bill can be read HERE

SEE ALSO

How TDs Vote On Gay Civil Unions Bill Could Affect Election Prospects – USI.  The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has pre-announced an audit of TDs’ votes for/against the Civil Unions Bill when voting takes place in the Dáil on Wednesday, (February 21), it emerged at the weekend.  (UK Gay News, February 19, 2007)

Labour’s Civil Union Bill Will Give Legal Recognition to Same-Sex Unions.  By Brendan Howlin TD, Labour spokesperson on Justice.  In many respects the tabling of this Bill marks a significant watershed in our legislative and social history.  This week will mark the first time that the Dail has been given the opportunity to consider legislation providing for the recognition and registration of civil unions entered into between persons of the same sex.  (UK Gay News, February 18, 2007)

Irish Dail Debates Civil Union Bill for Gays Next Week.  The Dáil Éireann (Irish Parliament’s lower house), is set to debate and vote on civil unions for gay couples next week.  (UK Gay News, February 16, 2007)

LINKS

  Union of Students Ireland website

 

Posted: 20 February 2007 at 15:30 (UK time)
Updated at 16:00

 

 

 

 

 

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