Frances Fitzgerald says referendum may not support extending civil marriage to same-sex couples

Ireland is set to vote on proposals to introduce civil same-sex marriage in the Spring – with early opinion polls suggesting more than 70% support extending civil marriage to same-sex couples.

Victory for the Yes side in the same-sex marriage referendum should not be taken for granted, Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald has warned.

Ms Fitzgerald said referendums had their own “momentum” and that recent history showed attitudes could shift dramatically during a campaign.

The minister cited the recent children’s rights vote and the head of the Catholic Chirch in Ireland calling for Catholics to “make their voice heard” as her reasons for predicting a shock outcome from the vote. The Children’s rights vote was supported by all parties and polls at one stage showed 80% were in favour of the proposal, however when the voters took to the polls the resulting YES vote was only 58%.Equal Marriage

She added “I wouldn’t take anything for granted in relation to a referendum on anything… The case has to be made, the rationale has to be clearly understood and people have to put their points of view out there.”

“This is a topic that elicits a range of views, understandably, but in terms of putting it to the people and changing our Constitution, I believe it will get the support it needs.”

The Government hopes to have enacted the Child and Family Relationships Bill, which provides for adoption by same-sex couples, before the referendum.

Ms Fitzgerald said the Department of Health was working on a new Assisted Reproduction Bill which includes surrogacy and believes it will be published later this month. The new version will retain the ban on commercial surrogacy, about which Ms Fitzgerald said she had “deep concerns”.