One Year On: Government Progress on Lesbian and Gay Equality
The Government, in their first year in office, have delivered important progress for lesbian, gay and bisexual people.
The Finance (No. 3) Act 2011, passed in July 2011, delivered equal treatment in the tax codes for civil partners, which was a key commitment in the Programme for Government. The Act also treated the children of civil partners the same as children of a married couple for taxation purposes, which offers important protections in key areas such as inheritance tax.
â€œThe Government, in particular Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan TD, delivered on the tax elements of civil partnership in a comprehensive way. It is a major advance and provides huge practical support for civil partnersâ€ said Kieran Rose, GLEN Chair.
Since Civil Partnership became generally available in April 2010, over 550 couples have entered civil partnerships, across every county in Ireland, to wide public acceptance.
The Government has enacted other legislation to address anomalies in Civil Partnership. For example the Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter TD, brought forward legislation to ensure that civil partners were treated the same as married couples in Citizenship provisions, and extended the list of foreign same-sex marriages and civil partnerships recognised in Ireland. Progress is continuing, with the current Finance Bill 2012 addressing minor anomalies in the tax treatment of civil partnership.
In the area of education, the Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairi Quinn TD, became the first Minister for Education to address the issue of homophobic bullying in schools. Calling for the â€˜elimination of homophobic bullyingâ€™ at the launch of a GLEN/Department of Education resource for school principals, the Minister is establishing a working group within the Department to chart ways in which schools can be safe and supportive environments for young lesbian, gay, bisexual and trangender students.
There are additional areas where progress is essential. The Programme for Government committed to address some of these areas.
â€œA critical omission from Civil Partnership is the provision of legal recognition and support of children in same-sex headed families. The Programme for Government committed to address these omissions and while we are pleased that it is in the current legislative programme for Government, we would encourage the Government to prioritise this issue and bring forward proposals that provide urgently needed protection for lesbian and gay familiesâ€ continued Rose.
â€œWe welcome the Government commitment to address the issue of provision of same-sex marriage in the forthcoming Constitutional Convention. This provides a critical opportunity to build on the progress of Civil Partnership and provide constitutional protection for our relationships. It also offers a very important opportunity to protect all families equally, including lesbian and gay headed familiesâ€ continued Rose.
We would encourage the Government to consult widely on the makeup of the Constitutional Convention, to ensure that it can appropriately involve and represent both the very wide diversity of the Irish population and the diversity of civil society.
For further information:
Brian Sheehan (086) 2330417
Kieran Rose (086) 8151310
GLEN â€“ Gay and Lesbian Equality Network
2 Exchange Street Upper, Dublin 8
t; + 353 1 6728650 m: + 353 86 2330417 www.glen.ie