Thinking Anglicans

Same-Sex Marriage in Ireland

The Irish Government has established a Constitutional Convention to consider a number of possible changes to the Irish Constitution. These issues are varied and include changes to the electoral system, the removal of the offence of Blasphemy, and provisions for same-sex marriage. The latter may or may not be precluded by Article 41 of the Constitution as currently worded.

Changing Attitude Ireland has made a written submission to the Convention, which can be read or downloaded as a PDF. Here’s the Executive Summary:

  • CAI strongly supports the extension of civil marriage to same-sex couples.
  • The existing inequalities between civil partnership and civil marriage have a realworld detrimental impact on the lives of same-sex couples, and even more on children being raised by them.
  • Allowing churches and other faith groups to ‘opt in’ to registering same-sex marriages, while protecting them from any attempt at compulsion, is the best way to respect the religious freedoms of both those who support and those who oppose same-sex marriage. This is particularly important in the Irish context, where there is a history of civil marriage law being used to discriminate against religious minorities.
  • Like many other Christian bodies, CAI supports marriage equality not despite its faith background, but because of it, believing marriage and stable relationships to be one of the bedrocks of society.
  • Although there is significant faith opposition to marriage equality, this must be understood in the light of the long Christian history of opposition to equality under the law and outright homophobia.

Meanwhile, in Northern Ireland the Guardian reports Northern Ireland’s ban on gay marriage to be challenged by Amnesty in court.

Amnesty International and gay pressure groups have warned that Northern Ireland’s power-sharing government will soon face a human rights legal case over its refusal to allow gay couples to marry.

Unionist parties have voted at Stormont to ensure Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are excluded from the same-sex marriage bill, which was passed in the Commons in February…

Paul Johnson at ECHR Sexual Orientation Blog has more legal detail: ECHR complaint is likely if same-sex couples cannot marry in Northern Ireland.

Possible court action could be brought under the Human Rights Act in the domestic courts and, if that failed to remedy the situation, a complaint could be made to the European Court of Human Rights. Such a complaint to the Court would present a novel legal issue which it has hitherto not considered: the existence of different arrangements for same-sex marriage within a nation state. Whilst the Court has so far been reluctant to recognize a right to same-sex marriage under Article 12 of the Convention, the existence of differences in treatment in marriage within the jurisdictions of the UK based solely on sexual orientation could make a more compelling Article 14 case than those argued in previous applications. What would the Court make of a situation whereby citizens of a Council of Europe state could contract same-sex civil marriage in one part of the state but not in another?

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Gerry Lynch
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I have long been sceptical of the likelihood that the ECHR will intervene any time soon to introduce marriage equality in NI; it refused to intervene in a French case last year and most European jurisdictions still don’t have marriage equality; in Eastern Europe, most still don’t have any form of registered partnership. The UK Supreme Court might, although I’m not sure on what grounds. We were only five votes short of a majority in favour of marriage equality in the NI Assembly last October (a private member’s motion with no legal force, but it’s the thought that counts). We’ll… Read more »

Craig Nelson
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Craig Nelson

That which may pertain in Northern Ireland is troubling. One could find allowance of equal marriage in Great Britain, the Republic of Ireland but not the devolved Province of Northern Ireland. In addition it would appear that that would likely be the situation for some considerable time due to the cross party voting arrangements. Of particular note would be the contents of the Belfast Agreement and the role played by human rights (I claim no expertise on these). I think that ths announcement is a bit ahead of itself – after all the bill hasn’t even been introduced in Scotland… Read more »

JCF
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JCF

Godspeed, Ireland, to equality!

Father Ron Smith
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A most interesting submission from ‘Changing Attitude, Ireland’. One hopes the politicians are listening to a voice of reason.

Simon Sarmiento
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The Roman Catholic bishops of Ireland have also made a submission
https://www.constitution.ie/SubmissionDetails.aspx?sid=2eff9f60-ab94-e211-a5a0-005056a32ee4

David
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David

So would residents of NI be able to travel to the other parts of the UK, get married, and then return home and be able to enjoy the benefits of marriage?

Iain McLean
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Iain McLean

David: the England & Wales bill provides that a same sex marriage contracted there will be treated as a civil partnership in NI.

Father Ron Smith
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“28.The Catholic Church’s position is clear; it does not give recognition to any other partnerships or legal unions as having an ethical or legal equivalence with marriage. The Church opposes therefore a change in the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples or other forms of relationship other than that of the relationship between one woman and one man. We believe that it would be damaging to the common good should civil law render same sex unions equivalent to marriage.” – R.C. Bishops – Presumably an “ethical or legal equivalence with marriage” – as far as the Irish R.C.Bishops are… Read more »

Rod Gillis
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