Irish students urge TDs to ‘vote for fairness’ on civil unions
February 23, 2007
Story by UK Gay News
DUBLIN — As TD’s (MPs) assembled at the Dáil ahead of Monday evening’s debate on Labour’s ‘private members bill on Civil Unions', the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) strongly advised TDs to “vote for fairness”
“TDs must banish fear and intolerance from their debate on Civil Unions,” said Steve Conlon, USI’s lesbian and gay spokesperson.
“If every member of the public is to retain full confidence in their local TD, then their local TD must vote for fairness.
“Every TD claims to believe in equal rights for all citizens, and the public expects them to vote accordingly. Eligible voters will turn to the voting record on Thursday to see that all TDs have put principle before prejudice,” he added.
The USI has already indicated that it intends to publish an audit of TDs’ votes For/Against the Bill soon after voting takes place.
Voters – who overwhelmingly endorse Civil Unions for lesbian and gay couples in an opinion poll published at the end of December – could interpret the audit as a “roll call of the principled,” according to the student group.
“Irish people from every walk of life are behind lesbian and gay citizens,” commented USI President Colm Hamrogue.
“Like USI, the public strongly wants the Civil Unions Bill to go forward and become law.
“Ultimately, equal marriage rights for all must be the goal for Irish society, with an end to every vestige of legal discrimination that afflicts lesbian and gay people.
“But in the short term, the Civil Unions Bill offers a really significant improvement over the status quo.
“Students are strongly advising TDs on this matter – do not thwart the public wish for fairness,” he added.
The Dáil debates the Civil Union Bill Tuesday evening. The debate will continue through Wednesday, with the vote being taken that night.
Mark Kelly, director, Irish Council for Civil Liberties, said the Bill provided a significant opportunity to debate the need for constitutional and legislative reform to tackle the inequalities faced by same sex couples.
“This debate is an important step towards achieving our ultimate goal of an express right for all persons to marry and found a family in accordance with the law, irrespective of gender identity or sexual orientation,” he said.
Speaking in advance of the debate, Labour Youth Vice-Chair, Neil Ward said: “The Civil Unions Bill being introduced by the Labour Party represents the first significant commitment by a political party in this state, to equality of treatment for same-sex couples.
“Same-sex couples have been abandoned by the state for long enough. The Civil Unions Bill is a massive step towards correcting that situation, and a step which should be embraced by all,” he said. – Issued by Gay Link Content
Scotland beats rest of UK to perform Legal Civil Unions