Submission from Stephen Spillane,
University College Cork, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Society
Working Group Member,
Union of Students of Ireland, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Campaign
In today’s society nothing is or should be taking for granted. People have to look for security in their lives at all times.
When it comes to domestic partnerships, security is lacking, if something happens to one of the partners, they have no rights to each others property even if it is held jointly, for a example joint ownership of a house, unless it is specified in the will. They also have no legal rights allowing to them access to pension funds or welfare benefits.
I believe that the domestic partnership working group should consider adopting a similar line to that adopted in the UK along the lines of a civil union which will guarantee security for both partners no matter what sex or orientation they may be.
I realise that marriage is protected by the constitution and that nothing that this proposed legislation creates cannot mirror or challenge the institution of marriage in any way. This is why the civil unions, or domestic partnerships, should only cover legal rights, access to welfare benefits, pensions, inheritance rights and taxation issues.
In the case of marriages/civil unions in other jurisdictions, the state should recognise these unions as a domestic partnership and give them the same entitlements under the legislation as those who register their partnerships in the Republic of Ireland.
At the moment the Republic of Ireland is in breach of the equality clauses of the Good Friday Agreement, as registered same sex couples in Northern Ireland have more rights and entitlements then their counterparts here in the Republic. This is a terrible situation for a country that prides itself on its respect for Human Rights and a proponent of increasing these rights globally.
God created us all equally so let us all be treated equally by the state. This is core to what this legislation should do; giving security, rights and more importantly equality to same sex couples on legal issues which are paramount to most couples.
The core of this legislation is that it should aim to create a system where all couples should be treated equally by the law; this does not involve recognition by the Roman Catholic Church, or any other church unless they wish to. This legislation should only apply to Government Agencies, Government Bodies and the Courts recognising these partnerships within the limits imposed by the constitution with respect to the institution of Marriage.