Eamon Gilmore supports gay marriage
Ireland's journey toward creating a society fully tolerant of the gay community is still not complete, the Tanaiste has claimed.
Eamon Gilmore said attitudes in the country were almost unrecognisable to those that prevailed a generation ago but insisted more progress was needed.
Addressing the European region's annual International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) conference in Dublin, Mr Gilmore reaffirmed his support for the acknowledgement of gay marriage by the state.
"That ILGA Europe should choose our capital city, Dublin, for this conference is a source of pride for us," he said. "This city, and this Republic, have been on their own remarkable journey in relation to the rights of LGBTI persons.
"There is a generation of young Irish people, for whom the Ireland of 20 or 30 years ago would be almost unrecognisable. Thousands of young LGBTI persons, who in the past would have felt the need to live elsewhere, have opted to stay in Ireland.
"And by doing so, they have enriched the country and made it a more tolerant place. Many in public life have emerged as role models for young LGBTI people and, in recent years, civil partnership ceremonies have been occasions of great celebration around the country.
"That journey is still incomplete. As I have stated elsewhere, the right of same-sex couples to marry is not a gay rights issue, it is a civil rights issue, and one that I support.
"The question of same-sex marriage is one that will be considered by our forthcoming Constitutional Convention. This is an innovation in Irish democracy, where citizens and public representatives will come together to consider what changes might be made to our Constitution, so that it better reflects not just the society we are now, but the society we aspire to."
The conference was attended by delegates from 42 countries across Europe who work for LGBTI rights.
Tiernan Brady, chair of the Dublin conference, welcomed Mr Gilmore's attendance. "The Tanaiste's presence at the conference is remarkable symbol of the progress that has taken place in Ireland," he said. "The Tanaiste's presence sent a powerful message of hope to those delegates coming from countries where LGBTI people are under daily threat, and where opportunities for progress are very limited."