Maman Poulet | Clucking away crookedly through media, politics and life

Money’s too tight to mention when/if Civil Partnerships will happen?

October 27th, 2008 · 1 Comment · Equality, LGBT, Same Sex Partnerships

While I was away I saw that GLEN had it’s 2007 annual report launched by Sean Aylward, Secretary General of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform on behalf of the Minister Dermot Ahern who was not able to attend due to urgent government business.

On the same day the Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, released her annual report and made note of the difficulties and unfairness facing cohabiting couples. Later that week there was an editorial in the Irish Times on the need for legislation in both the area of cohabitation and registration of same sex relationships. At the end of all that we are no closer to knowing when the legislation will be debated.

However the Irish Times mention money and the cost in their editorial.

The fact that consequential tax and welfare changes will involve a cost to the exchequer should not be used to justify delay. As things stand, the terms of the Cohabiting Bill and its legal protections are unlikely to become law until late next year, at the earliest. Only then will Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern be in a position to advise other relevant agencies of the need for fiscal change. Extra costs may not be incurred until 2010 or later. Whatever about concerns regarding these financial aspects, it is vital that the Government should live up to its commitment to formally recognise, at the earliest possible date, the many forms of relationships that exist in modern Ireland.

Are there finally reliable statistics on the costs that would be incurred by the state in the introduction of protections for co-habiting couples and a scheme of recognition of same-sex partnerships? Or maybe it would be more interesting to note estimations of the losses incurred by couples over the years due to the lack of the legislation?

I’ve said it before that I think we shouldn’t be talking up money at all regarding this set of human rights issues. It’s a cop out clause. But human rights, equality and diversity seem to be viewed by this government only in terms of economics – and that was before the credit crunch. Even the ngo’s speak in the lingo of assets and economic cases for diversity. GLEN made mention of the talented gays during the boom times when Bertie Ahern opened their office two years ago and now again seemingly during the gloom will bring shiny happy gays to the table to deliver our talents to save the world. So if and when we next hear about the legislation from the Minister will he say he’d love to bring it in but he can’t afford it? And the message from the lobby groups is that Ireland will be better off financially if we do it?

Segregation comparisons in one hand and recession busting in the other. I can hardly wait for the next move – partnered gays good for climate change? Has the basics of fighting for our rights to live with and love who we want on the principles of human rights completely failed? The stories of immigration concerns facing couples, partners losing housing after death, ex’s being treated unfairly in dissolutions, and others being banned from funerals etc when their partner died have been abandoned.

Meanwhile Britain has seen it’s first celebrity divorce. It was all a bit too straight and uninspiring for Barbara Ellen in today’s Observer.

What is it with the gay community that their vision of equality so frequently ends up resembling an ersatz version of heterosexuality, even to the point where, in some gay quarters, the response to this – the first high-profile gay divorce – would be one of celebration, of feeling that gay marriage has somehow come of age? It’s as if being gay and having the right to get married was all very well, but getting divorced is even better, almost akin to an official blooding.

All of which is understandable on some levels (after all they’ve been through, who could begrudge the gay community their hard-won badges of normality and acceptance?), bizarre and sad on others. The rationale seemingly is: ‘You see, it’s not all about confetti and costumes and parties with us; we do lawyers and heartbreak, too, just like you straights.’



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