The NLGF (National Lesbian and Gay Federation) strongly welcomes the decision of the government to commit to holding a referendum on extending the right to marry to same-sex couples.
Olivia McEvoy, Chair of the NLGF stated, “The decision by government to endorse the overwhelming vote of the Constitutional Convention in support of marriage equality represents a very important moment in the evolution of LGBT rights and Irish society more generally. Opening up civil marriage to loving and committed same-sex couples and families will be a clear statement by the Irish people that anti-LGBT discrimination has no place in modern Ireland.
“It will signal equal citizenship for all in our community and see Ireland join the many other countries and jurisdictions embracing this crucial equality reform – a number growing all the time. The NLGF has always and continues to have a principled objection to putting the human rights of a minority to a public vote. However, now that the referendum has been called, the NLGF look forward to working with political allies and civil society colleagues in the lead-up to the referendum campaign.
She continued, “We also call for coverage of that campaign to be fair and responsible, bearing in mind that we are talking about human lives in particular young LGBT people who do not deserve to be exposed to the kind of prejudice and homophobia that can drive some of the more extremist commentary in this area. To that end, the NLGF calls on the government to legislate for the outstanding issues around the protection and guardianship of children between now and the holding of the referendum.
“We are also heartened by the words of the Taoiseach yesterday, where he rightly framed this as an equality issue and made clear his intention to campaign strongly for the successful passage of the referendum in early 2015”.
McEvoy concluded “This referendum offers us the opportunity to not only finally allow same-sex couples marry in Ireland, but to enshrine that right in the Constitution and to afford our relationships and families the protection of the most powerful document in the State. We look forward to working towards ensuring those rights are finally realised for our LGBT community”.