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Government regress again on gay rights

10 March, 2004


Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Community, Social and Family Affairs Seán Crowe TD pointed out the Government's continued attempts to roll back rights for gay couples in relation to a Government amendment on the Social Welfare Bill - due for vote tomorrow - which would revert to a situation where gay couples are discriminated against.

Deputy Crowe said:

"The Government has, without consultation with gay rights groups, decided to roll back rights won in the Court last year. The amendment copperfastens discrimination against same sex couples and is an extremely regressive step. Following a Court case last year taken by the Equality Authority, it was discovered that the Government was obliged to treat same sex couples as heterosexual couples in regard to their entitlements for non-statutory social welfare payments, while they could continue to discriminate against them in regard to statutory welfare payments.

"The amendment would restore the position to that which existed prior to the case being taken last year and throw the whole situation into the limbo of a Department review not expected to report for a number of years. The Government cannot continue to put gay rights on the long finger, it must not be allowed to continue its policy of institutionalised discrimination against this community.

"Having been forced into a progressive position on gay rights by the Courts, it is disappointing to see that the Government's first reaction was to see how fast and how far they could roll it back. Sinn Féin believes same sex couples should be treated in the same manner as couples of the opposite sex and we will be opposing this amendment." ENDS

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