Youth council backs civil marriage for same sex couples

Extending civil marriage rights to same-sex couples has been backed by the National Youth Council of Ireland. The endorsement came as Taoiseach Enda Kenny urged a large turnout for the May 22 poll as Government sources expressed jitters over a drift to the no side in the marriage equality referendum.

The council, joins other youth groups such as ISPCC, Barnardos, the Children’s Rights Alliance, and Pavee Point in calling for a yes vote.

The body represents a broad range of organisations who work with more than 380,000 people, with 1,400 staff and 40,000 volunteers.

Young people need to be shown they are valued by society, council deputy director James Doorley said.

“A key part of this referendum will be getting out the vote. In the coming days National Youth Council of Ireland will be encouraging 18-to-25 year-olds in particular to make sure they make their voices heard on Friday, May 22,” he said.

Michael Barron, director of the charity BeLong To which helps young people deal with their sexuality, said a No vote would have serious consequences.

“Securing marriage equality is hugely important for LGBT young people, in particular. Too many LGBT young people experience difficult times growing up and know they don’t enjoy equal rights. If marriage equality is not passed, we reconfirm to them that their all too common experiences of homophobic bullying and rejection are acceptable in Ireland,” he said.

Mr Kenny warned that the No side is trying to distort the campaign and people should check with the Referendum Commission to get the facts on areas such as children’s rights.

The Taoiseach said that extending marriage rights did not change the definition of marriage in the Constitution.

No campaigners say the reform would damage the rights of children and redefine the role of the family.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald was yesterday told to remove a badge she wore in the Dáil supporting a vote in favour of marriage equality.

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