State urged to protect same-sex couples

Wednesday 10 March 2004 20.13
State urged to protect same-sex couples

Fine Gael has called on legislators to give legal protection to same-sex couples and Sinn Féin has accused the Government of rolling back gay rights won in the courts.

Both were speaking following a call by a senior Anglican churchman for inheritance and other rights to be given to gay couples living together.

Church of Ireland Archdeacon Gordon Linney last night called for legislation to protect cohabiting gay couples.

He said it is estimated that about 10% of Ireland's population are homosexual and that many were in regular unions which the State should protect legally.

Although he said homosexual couples should not be allowed to marry, the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network welcomed what it called a very valuable contribution to the debate.

Fine Gael's Equality Spokesperson, Senator Sheila Terry, also welcomed the remarks saying they were in line with her party's last general election manifesto.

She called on all legislators to support laws extending inheritance and other rights to homosexuals who lived together.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin vowed to oppose a Government amendment to the Social Welfare Bill which it says rolls back gay rights won recently in the courts.

Homosexuals were given travel passes and other benefits which their co-habitant partners were already receiving.