by Mike Andrew -
SGN Staff Writer
The Irish organization Marriage Equality announced on June 1 that it is launching a national poster campaign to give 'visibility to Gay and Lesbian families living in Ireland.'
Titled 'We Are Family,' the campaign will distribute posters depicting actual Lesbian and Gay couples and their children. The posters will be carried on busses in Dublin, and sent to libraries, family resource centers, and community information centers nation-wide.
According to Marriage Equality, "the groundbreaking campaign shatters the silence and myths surrounding these families and calls on the Government to recognize and protect same-sex couples and their children."
Marriage Equality Director Moninne Griffith said in a statement, "We Are Family is a pioneering campaign with simple messages, that Lesbian and Gay families are like any other, their children are the same as other Irish children, and that these families deserve to be recognized and protected by Irish laws. Until Lesbian and Gay families are equal in law, they will continue to experience discrimination and stigma."
She continued, "Some people in Ireland might not know a Lesbian or Gay family, and so We Are Family is an introduction of sorts to the wonderful diversity of Irish family life. What is often forgotten, too, is that apart from the immediate Lesbian or Gay family unit, these families are also sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, even grandmothers and grandfathers. They are already interwoven into Ireland's family fabric and the government must move to recognize this fact."
Ireland does not currently recognize same-sex relationships, but a Civil Partnership Bill is being considered by the Irish parliament. The bill would guarantee some rights to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples but would stop substantially short of equal rights with married couples.
The bill is expected to be passed and enacted into law no later than October this year.
The 2006 Irish census revealed 121,000 unmarried couples, up from 77,000 in 2002. This included 2,090 in same-sex relationships, up from 1,300.
Marriage Equality board member Orla Howard emphasized that the ultimate solution for LGBT families is marriage equality.
"Equal marriage rights for same-sex couples will lead to the recognition and protection of Lesbian and Gay families," she said. "The Government's Civil Partnership Bill, on the other hand, continues to deny the existence of same-sex families and ignores their children entirely. This leaves these families legally vulnerable in matters such as inheritance, access, maintenance, and so on. The simple solution is for the Irish Government to make this issue a priority for their Programme for Government."
While Ireland is a member of the European Union, its social legislation lags behind the European standard.
Sexual acts between adults of the same sex were legalized in 1993 after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Ireland's existing anti-Gay laws contravened the European Convention on Human Rights.
Sex reassignment is not recognized, although one Irish Trans woman won the right to have her birth certificate altered. In October 2007, Dr. Lydia Foy won her suit in Ireland's High Court to get a new birth certificate recording her as being born female.
Divorce was legalized in 1995.
Abortion is illegal, except to save the life of the mother. This law is also being challenged before the European Court of Human Rights.
Eighty-seven percent of Ireland's population identifies as Roman Catholic, and the Church has used its political influence to resist liberalization of social laws.
The Church has recently lost much of its public standing as revelations about ongoing physical and sexual abuse of children in its care have become public, however.
On March 20, Pope Benedict XVI formally apologized to Irish sex abuse victims. Three Irish bishops have resigned in the scandal.
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