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USI Demands Equality Under the Law for Gay Couples

category national | irish social forum | press release author Monday May 15, 2006 16:49author by Union of Students in Irelandauthor address Union of Students in Ireland, Grattan Street, Dublin 2, Irelandauthor phone 01 435 3400 Report this post to the editors

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has expressed dismay that marriage equality has been sidestepped by the Irish Human Rights Commission (IHRC) in its new report on the rights of same-sex and opposite-sex couples.

USI DEMANDS EQUALITY UNDER THE LAW FOR GAY COUPLES

15 May 2006

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has expressed dismay that marriage equality has been sidestepped by the Irish Human Rights Commission (IHRC) in its new report on the rights of same-sex and opposite-sex couples.

Same-sex marriage is a popular option in EU countries which recognise the right of gay and lesbian people to wed. In Catholic Spain, an estimated 2,000 gay individuals have married since last July. Meanwhile the Dutch Government reports that more than 16,000 of its lesbian and gay citizens have chosen to marry.

The evidence from Spain and the Netherlands appears to contradict a suggestion by Justice Minister Michael McDowell that most gay people in Ireland do not want the right to choose civil marriage. Following the recommendations of the IHRC report, McDowell has proposed state recognition of civil unions for same-sex couples as an alternative to marriage equality.
USI gay and lesbian spokesperson Steven Conlon said: Civil marriage is a civil right, not one that can be restricted to groups of people that the Government favours, while being denied to others.

USI believes in equality under the law. If governments create special alternative laws and institutions for minority groups, in an attempt to give them separate but equal treatment, this inevitably creates second-class citizens. History offers ample proof of this.

Not only do citizens have the civil right to marry whom they choose, they also have the civil right to be subject to identical laws and institutions. Civil partnerships are a step in the right direction and the IHRC report is to be welcomed for giving new impetus to the Governments proposed civil partnership bill but USI believes that nothing short of marriage equality meets the Irish Governments responsibility to treat all citizens as equal under the law.

Ends

For more information please contact:

Steven Conlon, USI LGBT Rights Officer 086 8194900
Tom Lowth, USI Welfare Officer 086 8374106
Ryan Brennan, Development Manager 01 4353400

Related Link: http://www.usi.ie
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