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Sinn Féin slams Government decision to contest Zappone - Gilligan case

15 April, 2005

Sinn Fein spokesperson on Social and Family Affairs Sean Crowe T.D. today questioned the decision by the Government to contest a legal action brought by a lesbian couple seeking to have their Canadian marriage recognised. Deputy Crowe said that the Government's decision is both "surprising and disappointing" and that it amounted to a pre-judgment of the work being currently carried out by the Constitution Committee which is considering the constitutional articles which deal with marriage and the family.

Deputy Crowe said:

"The Government's decision to contest the case being taken by Katherine Zappone and Ann Louise Gilligan who are seeking to have their Canadian marriage recognised is both surprising and disappointing. It is surprising because these issues are currently being considered by the Oireachtas All Party Committee on the Constitution which is examining the articles in the 1937 Constitution which deal with marriage and the family. The decision to contest the case is reportedly based on the Government's fear of the financial and social implications of recognising same-sex marriages. Equality and the recognition of equal rights should not be dependent on financial implications. The Government shoud have based its decision on what is right and just rather than on the financial implications.

"The refusal to recognise same sex partnerships, regardless of equivalent permanency, denies lesbians and gays equal access to a broad section of rights available to heterosexual married couples. That this denial of rights is based on the financial implications of vindicating such rights is scandalous. The lack of protection for gay and lesbian partnerships has permitted the government to introduce regressive provisions such as that introduced in the Civil Registration Bill 2003 specifically excluding same sex couples from the benefits of the legislation - which I opposed at the time.

"In our submission on the family to the Oireachtas All-Party Committee on the Constitution Sinn Féin argues strongly for full equal rights for same sex partnerships." ENDS

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