Key Facts

Update: No-one has the Right to a Child

  1. Civil Partnership and Marriage
  2. Civil Marriage and Religious Marriage
  3. Children’s Rights
  4. Marriage as an institution
  5. Strengthening our society
  6. Constitutional Protection of Families
  7. Referendum Commission
  8. No-one has the Right to a Child

 1. Civil Partnership and Marriage

Civil partnership is not the same as marriage.

  • Civil partnership has no constitutional protection. Marriage does.
  • The Civil Partnership Act could be repealed at any time by the Oireachtas, ending future civil partnerships.
  • Civil partnership does not have the same social status as marriage.

Marriage is a constitutional right. Civil partnership is not. Constitutional rights are protected from interference by governments and can only be changed by the people in a referendum.

2. Civil Marriage and Religious Marriage

By voting Yes we will recognise the permanent intimate relationships of lesbian and gay couples as marriage.

  • By voting Yes we will give these couples the same right as other couples to marry in a Registry Office, the same right to a civil marriage.
  • A Yes vote won’t give anyone the right to a religious marriage, or to marry in a church or in any other religious venue.
  • This referendum does not affect the right of any church or religion to govern religious marriages and to decide who may marry in a religious venue.

3. Children’s Rights

People who care for children know that a Yes vote is important to many children living in Ireland today.

  • The ISPCC and Barnardos support a Yes vote. So do Foróige and the Children’s Rights Alliance.
  • The ISPCC reports that many LGBT children growing up in Ireland feel excluded, isolated or undervalued and they suffer as a result.
  • A Yes vote will help show these children and adolescents that they are respected and valued equally and that they too can dream of marrying one day. As former President Mary McAleese says:

“… we believe it to be about Ireland’s gay children and about their future and about the kind of future we want for Ireland. We want, in the words of the proclamation, the children of a nation to be cherished equally. The adult children, the children yet unborn, the gay children yet unborn – we want them to be born into a world where if they fall in love with someone they can express that love fully”

  • The other children who stand to benefit from a Yes vote are children who have a gay or lesbian parent or grandparent. All of these children deserve to see that their parents and grandparents are respected and valued equally.

Every parent wants to be a good parent.

We want this regardless of whether we are straight or LGBT. The Psychological Society of Ireland says that “lesbian and gay parents are as likely as heterosexual parents to provide supportive and healthy environments for their children”. Allowing LGBT parents to marry can only enhance the stability that is essential for children in the home. LGBT parents should be able to share in the supports surrounding marriage in our society.

There is nothing in the referendum that denies or removes any children’s rights.

The No campaign claim a Yes vote will deprive children of ‘the right to a father and a mother’. This is not correct.

  • The State’s rules on adoption and assisted human reproduction are already written down in laws passed by the Oireachtas. This referendum will not change these.
  • The State has had adoption laws since the 1950s.
  • The State has now begun to legislate for assisted human reproduction, as more couples (mainly straight married couples) turn to this in order to have children.
  • Some people in the No campaign are unhappy with the new Children & Family Relationships Act 2015. The Act is not affected by this referendum. The No campaign’s efforts to confuse this referendum on marriage equality with the Act are regrettable.

4. Marriage as an institution

Marriage is an institution that both changes and endures. Not so long ago in Ireland some marriages were traditionally arranged to provide financial security. There was less focus on romantic love and the happiness and fulfilment of the couple. Now we see things differently.

The rules on civil marriage have changed over the years. Two recent examples include the introduction of the right to divorce in 1996 and legal separation in 1989. Older examples were rules brought in to give married women control over their own property, as well as rules to prevent a spouse from disinheriting the other spouse or children.

5. Strengthening our society

By sharing the right to Civil Marriage with LGBT couples we will broaden the base of couples who can marry.  LGBT couples now and in the future who embrace the concept of a lifelong union should have access to marriage. Valuing inclusiveness and diversity strengthens our society.

6. Constitutional Protection of Families

Marriage is a constitutional right. No government can pass a law or adopt a policy to undermine marriage or take away the right to marry. A Yes vote will give LGBT families the right to the constitutional protection of marriage.

7. Referendum Commission

For more information on any aspect of the Marriage Equality Referendum that Ireland will be voting on on May 22nd have a look at the Referendum Commission’s webpage.

8. No-one has the Right to a Child

The No side claim that the amendment will give married LGBT couples the ‘right to a child’. This is not true. There is no such thing in Irish law as ‘a right to a child’.

No-one has a ‘right to a child’.

Adults, regardless of marital status, may take lawful steps to have a child. It is up to each adult to determine how they go about this – provided they act within the law. No-one has the right to demand a child.

If people are unable to have their own children, then they may turn to options such as adoption, infertility treatment, or donor assisted human reproduction (DAHR).

These options are open to all adults, regardless of marital status or sexual orientation. This is the law in the Children and Family Relationships Act, and it will be the law after the referendum – regardless of the outcome.

More information: The Constitution, the Right to Procreate, and the Marriage Equality Referendum