A GROUP ADVOCATING equality for gay and lesbian people living in Ireland has welcomed Justice Minister Alan Shatter’s latest comments on parenting equality for gay couples and the issue of gay marriage.
In a speech at an LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) Fine Gael event last night, Shatter said that he was “acutely aware” of the need to reform family law in Ireland.
He said this needed to be done “to secure equal citizenship for lesbian and gay parents and the best interests of their children”.
Shatter said: “This reforming focus must also ensure that children in lesbian or gay family units are able to form a legal connection with their non-biological parent and that kindred relationships flow from such legal connection.
“Reforms are also needed in the areas of guardianship, custody and access, and to ensure maintenance and inheritance rights for the children of civil partners.
“If we are to address these matters comprehensively, we must take account of developments that have occurred in the area of assisted human reproduction that have, for too long, been ignored in our family law legislation.”
He said that the Family Relationships and Children Bill will be enacted by the end of next year.
‘Lack of legal certainty’
It is hoped that such legislation will provide financial security for families in addressing issues such as maintenance and inheritance rights.
Shatter’s comments were welcomed by GLEN, the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network which said that Shatter’s comments in relation to family law were “great news for lesbian and gay couples who are parenting children”.
“One of the most urgent issues for these parents is the lack of legal certainty for their families and the lack of protection and security for their children,” GLEN chairperson Kieran Rose said.
“The reforms the Minister outlined this evening will transform the status of these families, and secure for their children the range of protections and supports available to children in other families” said Rose.
Shatter also spoke about referring the issue of gay marriage to the Constitutional Convention, which meets next month, and said that any recommendation from the convention on this issue will be responded to by government within four months.
“I also recognise that provision for same-sex marriage in Ireland is a core aspiration together with the full recognition of such marriages where effected abroad,” Shatter told his audience.
The Minister also said he intended to make changes to the Employment Equality Act to ensure that LGBT teachers cannot be discriminated against on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity, particularly in schools as can currently be the case in some circumstances.