As Britain implements its own legislation to support marriage equality – and with Ireland on the cusp of similar amendments – Nessa Childers MEP has warned of the rise of ultra-conservative lobby groups who oppose gay unions.
‘I’m seeing it now in other European countries,’ the independent MEP said from her Brussels office. ‘Influential lobbyists and organisations who want to deny equal marriage rights for all.
‘We cannot allow Irish citizens to come under attack from similar groups.
‘I am hopeful that the Government will continue in its commitment to shortly introduce universal marriage rights, but none of us can be complacent: there will be opposition and it would be naïve not to be prepared for that resistance.’
In some European countries, far right and religious groups are currently pushing for marriage to be limited to heterosexual couples only.
Ms Childers added: ‘I absolutely applaud and celebrate the first marriages which have taken place among gay people in Britain.
‘And Ireland cannot become isolated on this matter – we cannot be playing catch-up with the rest of Europe: I expect to see gay marriage legalised within 12-18months in this country. Those same-sex couples who may be getting engaged now should reasonably be allowed to proceed to marriage within a normal time-frame.
‘The Government can’t make excuses – it can’t get cold feet and delay this much-needed legislation by opting to run a referendum after, say, the next general election.’
Ms Childers, an independent politician, concluded: ‘The Civil Partnership act did do some good – but it’s a stepping stone only; it needs to be a springboard to facilitate full equality.’
Meanwhile, day-two of the EU-African summit involving some 80 states is taking place in Brussels. This morning, MEPs including British politician Michael Cashman held up ‘end LGBT hate’ signs in Parliament – a protest directed at the African countries that maintain a draconian anti-gay stance.
And in response to the drastic anti-homosexuality laws it recently implemented, EU member states, including the Netherlands and Denmark, have now cancelled their Ugandan aid. The Department Of Foreign Affairs said last month that a similar withdrawal would be ‘inappropriate’.