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  • April 2015 : Divisions and overlaps between religious and secular groups evident in same-sex marriage referendum debate

A referendum will take place in Ireland on 22 May 2015 concerning the legalisation of same-sex marriage. Unsurprisingly, religious and secular groups have both advanced positions in relation to this contested issue. For the most part, opponents of the referendum belong to religious groups while supporters fall into the secular category. At the same time, there is also some evidence of organised religious groups supporting the referendum. A good example of this is the Faith in Marriage Equality (FIME) group, which brings together different faith traditions in advocating, based on religious sources of legitimation, for marriage for same-sex couples.

  • March 2015 : Religious and secular groups weigh into same-sex marriage referendum debate

On the 22 May 2015 a referendum will be held in Ireland concerning the legalisation of same-sex marriage. In the run up to this referendum, religious and secular groups have put forward opposing stances. The Catholic bishops have set out their position calling for rejection of the proposed constitutional change, a stance which chimes with the position of other religiously-inspired entities such as the Iona Institute (Dublin-based Catholic think-tank which promotes traditional church teaching, especially in the area of marriage and family). On the secular side, groups such as the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) are calling for the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

For more detail, see the Irish Catholic Bishop’s Conference website, Iona Institute, and GLEN.

  • Catholic bishop defends church teaching on same-sex marriage

In 2015 a referendum will take place in Ireland concerning the extension of the right to marry to same-sex couples. Opinion poll data suggest strong public support for this proposal.

Against this background, the Catholic bishop of Elphin, Kevin Doran, has defended the church’s teaching on marriage as the key human institution for the bearing and raising of children. He said the introduction of same-sex marriage would sunder this relationship between marriage and reproduction.

For more detail, see the Irish Times.

  • 6 June 2014 : Tuam mother-and-baby home controversy highlights past church-state interactions

Following the establishment of the Irish state in 1921, the running of much of the country’s social service infrastructure was handed over to religious institutions. Industrial schools, Magdalen laundries, and mother-and-baby homes were all part of this infrastructure and catered to particular stigmatised individuals in the society including young offenders, children born outside marriage, and single mothers. The latter were termed “fallen women” because they were perceived to have violated the society’s sexual code.

Women who had children outside marriage were frequently sent to mother-and-baby homes run by Catholic female religious and authorised by the state. In early June 2014 a story about the graves associated with one of these homes located in the west of Ireland town of Tuam, Co. Galway, came into the public domain as a result of the efforts of some local people to determine the history associated with the home in their locality. This gave rise to a public controversy about what happened to the children and mothers concerned and the burden of responsibility for their experiences.

For more detail, see Raidió Teilifís Éireann and the Irish Times.

  • 18 November 2013 : Catholic bishop expresses church opposition to government proposal to hold referendum on same-sex marriage

Various legal rights pertaining to same-sex couples – such as the right to adopt children and the right to marry – have become subject to state action in recent months in Ireland. Following the government’s proposal to hold a referendum on same-sex marriage in 2015, Bishop Denis Nulty of Kildare and Leighlin has defended the Catholic Church’s stance on marriage as the crucible for the expression of life-long love between a man and a woman and for the socialisation of the next generation.

For more detail, see on Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference.

  • 26 October 2013 : Church of Ireland organisation calls for legal clarity regarding position of children in same-sex relationships

In recent times, increasing public debate has taken place in Ireland concerning the extension of the right to marry to same-sex couples. A referendum on the issue will likely take place in 2015. Other legal issues relating to same-sex couples have also recently come into the public domain. On 26 October, 2013, a Church of Ireland LGBT advocacy organisation, Changing Attitude Ireland (CAI), called for legal clarity with respect to the children of same-sex couples. This call was made by Judge Catherine McGuinness, patron of CAI, at a Changing Attitude Ireland lecture to mark 20 years since the decriminalisation of homosexuality in southern Irish society.

  • April 2013 : Civil Marriage and Same-Sex Couples

As part of the government’s commitment to constitutional amendment in light of wider social and political change, it established a Constitutional Convention in 2012 to consider and make recommendations in relation to various topics such as same-sex marriage, voting rights, electoral reform, and the role of women in politics (see The Convention on the Constitution)

The membership of the Constitutional Convention is made up of 100 people reflecting different sectors of Irish society. It’s purpose to make recommendations to government regarding changes in the constitution. It operates by inviting oral and written submissions from individuals and groups in relation to the various issues addressed in its work.

One of these topics relates to the contentious issue of same-sex marriage. The Constitutional Convention received a number of submissions from various individual citizens, religious groups, and non-religious organisations in relation to this issue. Two submissions reflecting opposing positions on extending the right to marriage to same-sex couples are those of the Church of Ireland organisation Changing Attitude Ireland (see The Convention on the Constitution) and the Council for Marriage and the Family of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference (see The Convention on the Constitution).

In April 2013, 79% of members of the Constitutional Convention voted in favour of extending civil marriage to same-sex couples.

D 8 octobre 2018    ABrian Conway

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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