Legislative update:

15 May 2019 Civil Registration Bill 2019 passed by Both Houses of the Oireachtas. This Bill, once enacted, allows both members of same-sex female relationship to register as parents and allows for other necessary changes to Civil Registration to allow both parents apply for Guardianship Rights. It must be noted, that this legislation will only apply to parents who have been assisted by registered services in becoming pregnant.

The Bill, once enacted, will also remove the necessity for a woman to contact an estranged husband when establishing paternity of her child with her new partner, the biological parent of her child.

Opposition rejects same-sex marriage vote in Australia

The Australian opposition decided yesterday to block government plans for the public but non-binding vote on legalising gay marriage, arguing it would better if the issue was decided in parliament.  See relevant article.

Paternity Leave

The Paternity Leave and Benefit Bill, which has recently been passed in the Dail, will when enacted enable paternity leave and transferred paternity leave rights for male same-sex couples that adopt.  See relevant article.
See Seanad Debates:  Paternity Leave and Benefit Bill 2016: Committee and Remaining Stages


Finding that Pension scheme rule constitutes indirect discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation

The Advocate General found that a pension scheme rule constituted indirect discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, as well as direct age discrimination.  The pension scheme rule provided that a spouse’s pension would only be available where a member had married or entered into a civil partnership prior to attaining the age of 60. Under Irish law, civil partnership was not recognised until 2011 and so because of this rule, for homosexual individuals born prior to 1951, their partners could not be eligible for a spouse’s pension under the scheme.  See here


Recent MISI 2015 findings and the Gay Health Network (GHN) 2015 summary of actionsare available at
The HIV +  SEX  booklet.
GMHS 23 2015 annual report – the GMHS 23 2015 Annual Report has been published and should soon be available from the ‘Gay Mens Health Project Annual Reports’ section of the HSE’s website.

Same sex couple granted guardianship rights to daughter

A judge granted the first guardianship application for a child, in a western county, to a partner in a same-sex couple.  This has become possible under new legislation contained in the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015.  Read Irish Times article by Gordon Deegan.
For more about ‘guardianship’ see here.

Marriage Equality in Europe

As of December 2015, thirteen out of the nineteen countries that have now legalised same-sex marriage across the globe are in Europe.  Read more

Surrogacy battle

A same-sex American-Spanish couple have won a high-profile custody fight against a Thai surrogate mother.  Read Irish Examiner article by Nattasuda Anusonadisai.

How surrogacy works – or doesn’t – in Ireland

The Families Through Surrogacy Conference will take place in Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin, on Sunday, March 6th, noon-6pm. Tickets from €47 on For more information see;

Read Irish Times article.

The commencement order for the Marriage Act 2015 was signed yesterday (10/11/2015) by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald in Dublin Castle

“Historic day as legislation is signed to allow same-sex couples to get married”  –  Read Irish Independent article by Adam Cullen and Mark O’Regan

Tánaiste welcomes commencement of Marriage Act 2015 and signs Regulations to assist civil partners who now wish to marry  –  See Press Release

The Marriage Bill 2015 passes all stages in the Dail

The passing of the Bill paving the way for same-sex marriage was “a real marker of equality” in the country, Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald told the Dáil.  She was speaking as the Marriage Bill 2015 passed all stages in the Dáil.  The Bill now goes to the Seanad.  An amendment has been made to this legislation removing the requirement for civil partners who had registered a civil partnership in Ireland to give three months’ notice when seeking to marry one another.  It is is hoped that this legislation will be passed in the next few weeks.  Read Irish Times article by Michael O’Regan

CSO Vital Statistics Yearly Summary 2014

There were 67,462 births registered in 2014.  42,972 (63.7%) births were registered as within marriage and of these 24 were within civil partnerships.  There were 24,490 births registered as outside marriage/civil partnership accounting for 36.3% of all births, an increase of 0.9 percentage points from 2013.  58% of birth registered as outside marriage were registered by parents giving the same address.  The highest percentage of births outside marriage/civil partnership was in Limerick City at 56.7% and the lowest was in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown with 24.6%.
The number of civil partnerships registered in 2014 was 392 which was 54 more than in 2013.  The annual rate per 1,000 population was 0.09, 0.02 more than the rate in 2013.

Legal challenges could delay same-sex marriage until 2016

The outcome of the same-sex marriage referendum on May 22nd is the subject of a legal challenge.  Senior Government sources are admitting that legislation could be delayed for months.  An Irish Times article by Sarah Bardon

The same-sex marriage referendum

A referendum was held on May 22nd 2015 to amend the Irish Constitution to allow for same-sex marriage.  In total 1,201,607 (62%) people voted for the amendment, while 734,300 (38%) voted against.  This makes Ireland the first country in the world to make same-sex marraige legal by popular vote.  Read more here

Marriage has pension and tax considerations

“Couples who have entered into civil partnerships will already be entitled to most of the benefits – and obligations – of marriage, but for those thinking it may be time to get married, here are some pointers”.  An Irish Times Article by Fiona Reddan

Marriages and Civil Partnerships 2013 –  Central Statistics Office

There were 338 civil partnerships registered in 2013, 208 male unions and 130 female unions. The average age of partners in civil partnership couples was 39.3 years, the average age of male partners being 38.5 and average age of female partners was 40.6.  Read more

Lydia Foy settles transgender birth cert case against State

Transgender woman Lydia Foy has effectively settled her long-running action against the State aimed at securing a birth certificate in her acquired female gender. The settlement was reached on the basis of the High Court been told the Government’s “firm intention” is to enact the necessary laws “as soon as possible” in 2015.  Read Irish Times article.


Couples will be ‘forced to split’ after sex change  –  Irish Independent

The Equality Authority has raised concerns after carrying out a detailed analysis of the imminent Gender Recognition Bill, which serves as the framework for legislation due to be introduced later this year.  The Heads of the Bill requires that legal gender recognition applicants must be single.  Read Irish Independent article hereSee Revised General Scheme of the Gender Recognition Bill.

European Court decides that only the mother giving birth can take maternity leave

The European Court has decided that only the mother giving birth can take maternity leave.  Breast feeding a baby is not sufficient in itself to entitle a woman to protection under the Directive.  In addition, it is not direct sex discrimination to refuse the intended mother maternity leave in circumstances where the intended father would have no such entitlement.  There is no entitlement to adoption leave under EU law – it is a matter for individual member states whether to grant it.  Read press release and judgment in full here.

Same-sex couples facing Russian adoption ban

The decree, posted on the Russian government’s website yesterday, is intended to “help improve the procedure for transferring children without parental care to families of Russian and foreign citizens, and to protect the rights and interests of these children”.  It was signed into law by Dmitry Medvedev, the prime minister.

It includes a bar on adoptions by “those in a same-sex union recognised as a marriage and registered in accordance with the law of states in which such marriage is allowed, and also citizens of such states who are not married”.  The wording suggests that in countries that allow gay marriage, only married heterosexual couples will be permitted to adopt children. See more

An anonymous survey to find out how many Irish-based couples are civil partners based on a union formed outside the State

Fergus Ryan Lecturer in Law at the National University of Ireland Maynooth is conducting this survey with a view to helping make the case for marriage equality in Ireland.  Take part

First Same Sex weddings to happen from 29 March 2014

Women and Equalities Minister Maria Miller has announced that the first same sex weddings in England and Wales will be able to take place from Saturday 29 March 2014. Read more

Sound regulation of surrogacy is imperative

The regulation of surrogacy has come under scrutiny in recent months, as the courts have considered this highly emotive and, sometimes, extremely technical process.
An Irish Times article.   Read more

Gay Switchboard Launch a New Outreach & Drop in Service

Gay Switchboard, in partnership with Gay Health Network, is pleased to announce that it will be providing a weekly face to face & email support service from Saturday 7th December 2013 (2-4pm).

Support Service: 01-872 1055 (for 7 day LGBT+ Support & Information since 1974)
105 Capel Street
Dublin 1

Same-sex marriage now legal in Britain

British prime minister David Cameron’s Bill to allow same-sex marriage in England and Wales formally became law yesterday after Queen Elizabeth II gave her assent to the legislation.  An Irish Times article.  Read more

A comparative study on the regime of surrogacy in EU Member States

This Report, which was written by academics from the LSE and the Universite Paris I, sets out a thorough analysis of the surrogacy laws in Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands, Romania, Russia, South Africa and Spain. It also includes a helpful table showing an overview of the legal approach of all EU Member States. 8 out of the 28 Member States have a total ban on surrogacy, and 8 more ban commercial surrogacy.  For the full study click HERE.

Parental rights for same-sex couples urged

The Government has been advised to extend guardianship rights over children to same-sex couples who become civil partners, according to a report to be published shortly.

The report prepared by the Government’s rapporteur on child protection, Dr Geoffrey Shannon, has advised senior policy-makers that the failure to legally recognise same-sex civil partners “ignores reality” and is causing insecurity for children and their parents.  More.


Paving the way for same-sex couples to adopt children in Northern Ireland

The Court of Appeal in the North has dismissed a bid by Northern Ireland’s Department of Health to overturn a ruling that the prohibition of adoption of children by same-sex and unmarried couples is unlawful.  Unmarried couples in England, Scotland and Wales can apply jointly to be considered for adoption of children, irrespective of sexual orientation. But anyone unmarried in Northern Ireland is currently only eligible for consideration as an individual. See More

The Australian Study of Child Health In Same-Sex Families (ACHESS)

Researchers at Melbourne University in Australia collected data on 500 children across the country and found that kids growing up in gay and straight families matched pretty equally when it came to self-esteem, emotional well-being and the amount of time they spent with parents; but when it came to overall health and family cohesion, the children of gay parents did even better than the national average.  Read More.  Interim Report.

The French Parliament has given final approval to a bill allowing same-sex couples to get married and adopt children  –  June 2013

On 23 April 2013, the French Parliament gave final approval to a bill allowing same-sex couples to get married and adopt children. This makes France the 14th country in the world to legalize marriage between same-sex couples, and the 9th in Europe. Law No.2013-404, approving marriages between same-sex couples, was signed into law by the French President on 17 May 2013 and published in the Official Journal on 18 May 2013.  More.

Surrogacy, parentage, and citizenship: Ireland in the wider world 

This document has been produced by the Oireachtas Library & Research Service.  View document

Genetic parents win surrogate twins case – March 2013

A landmark decision by the High Court means the genetic mother of twins born to a surrogate is entitled to be registered as their mother on their birth certificates.  Mr Justice Henry Abbott ruled that the genetic mother was the legal mother and was entitled to have a declaration from the court stating that.  He noted the lack of legislation in Ireland on surrogacy, which meant surrogacy contracts were not illegal.  The judge adjourned the case to next month to allow the sides consider his judgment.  The State has 21 days to appeal Mr Justice Abbott’s decision to the Supreme Court.  The case could be heard as a priority within nine months if Chief Justice Mrs Justice Susan Denham agrees to accept it on the priority list. At worst it could take four years.

The decision opens the door to genetic mothers in the same situation to go to court for a declaration stating their parenthood and to take it to their local registrar so they can be named on their children’s birth certs.

Child Rapporteur Geoffrey Shannon has said that legislation on surrogacy should be introduced urgently following the landmark ruling in the High Court.  The fact the case had come before the courts was a “failure of the Oireachtas”.  “We can’t turn a blind eye to surrogacy; we need to make provision for it in law or make it illegal,” he said.  “Children should not be left in a legal limbo.”

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said he was preparing a new Bill that would address “certain aspects of the law on surrogacy” and he hoped to publish the Family Relationships and Children Bill later this year.

Dr Mary Wingfield, clinical director of the Merrion Fertility Clinic and a member of the Commission for Assisted Human Reproduction, agreed with a recommendation that a child born through surrogacy should be “presumed to be that of the commissioning couple”. Legislation was badly needed, she said. And it was “tragic” the a couple had to resort to court to resolve surrogacy issues.  Fertility clinics and legal sources estimate that up to 200 children in Ireland have been born by surrogacy. One US agency alone, Circle Surrogacy, said yesterday it had arranged for the birth of 25 children through surrogacy for Irish parents.  Dr David Walsh of the Sims Clinic in Dublin said it hoped to provide “altruistic” surrogacy.  This involves cases where a surrogate is paid only for expenses incurred. Dr Sandra Brett of Beacon Care Fertility also said it was examining offering surrogacy services.

While there is no law against surrogacy, legal uncertainty means most clinics do not offer it. New regulations mean the Irish Medicines Board must approve any surrogacy procedures.

LGBTParents in Ireland  –  Report from a study into the experiences of Lesbian, Gay Bisexual and Transgender People in Ireland who are parents or who are planning parenthood

This report is the result of evidence based research carried out among LGBT parents and LGBT people planning parenthood.  The report was commissioned by LGBT diversity and witten by Jane Pillinger and Paula Fagan.  Download Key Findings Report here.

Chief Justice Launches Guides to Civil Partnership – December 2012

The Chief Justice, the Hon Mrs Justice Susan Denham launched two new publications on Civil Partnership.  The first, developed by GLEN and the ICCL, is in the ICCL ‘Know Your Rights’ series and details all the rights and obligations that apply to civil partnership in Ireland.  The second is a comprehensive annotated guide to the Civil Partnership Act mainly for legal pratictioners. Both guides have been written by Dr. Fergus Ryan of DIT.

Know Your Rights: The RIghts and Obligations of Civil Partners and Other Same-Sex Couples