The Road to Equality

There has been an extraordinary transformation in the status of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Ireland over the last two decades, 2015 has been a remarkable year in this journey.

It was only in 1993, that law reform on the basis of equality decriminalised gay people. That was followed by Equality legislation which ensured that people could not be discriminated against in employment or in the provision of goods and services on the basis of their sexual orientation.

In 2010, lesbian and gay relationships were recognised through civil partnerships which provided almost all the legal rights and entitlements of civil marriage.

In May 2015 the Children and Family Relationships Act was passed updating 50 year old family law provisions in relation of parenting and guardianship of children. The act also broadens the categories of people who may apply to adopt and makes provisions in relation to assisted human reproduction. As of summer 2015 the legislation has not yet been commenced pending the necessary infrastructure to support the legislation.

Also in May 2015 and with the support of all political parties the Government held a constitutional referendum on civil marriage equality. The proposal ‘Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex' was supported by a resounding 62% of voters in a ballot with higher than normal turnout. The effect of the referendum result is to ensure that lesbian, gay and bisexual people have full and equal citizenship and status in the Irish Constitution.

In July 2015 the Gender Recognition Act was signed into law by the President of Ireland making Ireland the fourth country in the world to specifically introduce legislation based on self-determination and removing all medical criteria from the legal recognition process for trans people.