In May 2015, over 1.2 million people voted in favour of marriage equality. This vote was about more than just the right to marry. The will of the people was clear; they wanted LGBTQ+ people and relationships treated equally by the State.
The enactment of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 was a significant step towards for equality for children of LGBTQ+ parents. For the first time in the State, both parents in same-sex couples could be listed on a child’s birth certificate. However, both parents could only be listed on the child’s birth certificate if the circumstances of the birth and conception fell within the strict rules of the legislation. This has led to many children in LGBTQ+ families being excluded from accessing full parental rights.
To remedy this situation, we in Labour have introduced a private member’s bill to amend the 2015 Act, produced in collaboration with the Equality for Children and LGBT Ireland organisations. Our bill is being debated in the Dáil on 25th January – it is likely that its further progress will be delayed but we are working with the government to see its provisions passed, so as to close the gaps in the law and ensure full equality for LGBTQ+ families. The changes that we have proposed would have a profoundly positive impact on these families.
The Labour Party has been a proud and vocal ally of the LGBTQ+ community for decades. This bill is another page in the long chapter on Labour’s role in fighting for LGBTQ+ equality. My predecessor and then Tánaiste, Eamon Gilmore, aptly described marriage equality as the civil rights issue of our generation. I’m proud of the role Labour played in securing and winning the referendum. While that battle was won, we have more work to do. This is about fairness. This is about human rights and, ultimately, it’s about equality for children.
I know that the commitment to LGBTQ+ rights is shared by all members of the Labour Party. I would urge you to contact your local Government TDs and let them know how important this Bill is, and to ask them to support it in the Dáil.
In the meantime, we will keep fighting until every child is equal and until all those who suffer early pregnancy loss or need time off work to undergo fertility treatment will have the statutory workplace protection they need.
Ivana Bacik TD