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Irish mixed on gay marriage

11 April 2014


Vigil: Christian protesters gather out side the Palace of Westminster, on Monday 

Vigil: Christian protesters gather out side the Palace of Westminster, on Monday 

THE new marriage laws in England and Wales have been given a mixed reception in Ireland.

After the first same-sex marriages in England and Wales, the Evangelical Alliance (EA) in Northern Ireland welcomed the fact that the Province retained the old law, after its Assembly rejected a motion to extend same-sex marriage to its jurisdiction.

The EA's public-policy officer, David Smyth, said: "Christian opposition to same-sex marriage was never just about protecting churches. It's always been about the well-being and welfare of family and communities for generations to come."

Welcoming the new laws, however, the Anglican organisation Changing Attitude Ireland (CAI), which campaigns for gay rights, said through its chairman, Dr Richard O'Leary: "We are concerned that the many gay and lesbian Anglicans who migrate between Britain and Ireland will find that the different marriage provisions cause legal difficulties."

CAI had, only weeks ago, criticised the failure of the C of I Select Committee on Sexuality to invite any self-identifying gay or lesbian to join the forum, which is charged with "enabling the listening, dialogue and learning process" on all aspects of sexuality in the context of Christian belief.

Pam Tilson, a churchwarden at St George's, Belfast, and a lesbian, told the committee that the Church should reflect on why the gay, lesbian, and bisexual members among the more than 600 members of the General Synod from which the committee was drawn were fearful of coming out as gay in the church environment. She called on the Church of Ireland "to confront the problem of homophobia in the Church".

Another speaker, the Rector of St Catherine's, Dublin, Canon Mark Gardner, spoke of the discrimination against gay C of I ordinands and clergy.

Last week, the Church of Ireland Select Committee on Sexuality issued a statement saying that it had "decided to establish an advisory panel which can draw more widely from the Church, and will include self-identifying LGBT people as well as academics".

Ms Tilson was contacted by the Dean of Belfast, the Very Revd John Mann, who chairs the committee, and asked to join the advisory panel, which she agreed to do.

Marriage poll in south.

A new survey suggests that almost 70 per cent of voters in the Republic of Ireland would support legislation allowing same-sex marriage, when its government holds a referendum on the issue next year.

The findings of an Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll, using a sample of 1000 people aged 18 and above, suggest that same-sex marriage is more likely to be acceptable among younger voters - approval declining steadily in line with age.

Eighty per cent of those between the ages of 18 and 24 were in favour, whereas 44 per cent aged 65 or above were in favour, and women, at 73 per cent approval, were more in favour than men, at 61 per cent.

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