In a scathing letter sent to all TDs and Senators yesterday, the newly-formed Catholic League urged politicians to vote down the legislation before it becomes “harmful to society”.
The bill – which grants equal rights to all couples in Ireland – is to be voted on in the Dáil in the coming months. It received all-party support during a three-day debate in December.
The document is seen by supporters as essential to guaranteeing equal rights for gay and lesbian couples. It focuses on marriage, property rights and inheritance for more than 2,000 couples who reside with each other.
However, director of the Catholic League and Catholic Voice newspaper, publisher Anthony Murphy, said enacting the legislation would lead to exploitation by the “homosexualist lobby”. Mr Murphy, whose group is linked to a 350,000-strong US organisation, added that “any parliament which proposes legislation that in effect opens the way for same-sex ‘marriage’ is destroying piece-by-piece the institution of the family”.
In a two-page attack on the proposed law, the group, which claims to represent “religious freedom rights and free speech rights of Catholics,” made a number of allegations against the bill. They included claims that:
- The bill, if passed, will be exploited by the “homosexualist lobby to promote their immoral objective of achieving equal status with marriage and then the even greater evil which would be the adoption of children by same sex couples”.
- The “proposed legislation is harmful to society [and] would expose young people to erroneous ideas about sexuality and marriage, and deprive them of their necessary defences”
Mr Murphy confirmed he sent the letter and that his group is planning a “diocese-based” petition and publicity campaign over the coming weeks in an attempt to block the bill.
However, criticising the letter as ill-founded and prejudiced Gay and Lesbian Equality Network director Brian Sheehan said public representatives must not be bullied into voting down legislation vital to a modern, open Ireland.
“Civil partnership is about putting shape and certainty to same-sex couples’ lives,” Mr Sheehan said.
“Minister for Children Barry Andrews told the Seanad last year during the adoption bill that there are times when the HSE fosters out children to same-sex couples, because it is in the child’s interest.
“The Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern has also accepted that same-sex couples need legal changes in terms of property and inheritance issues when they are in long-term relationships.
“The Dáil debate in December shows the bill has full support, and it is concerning someone would wish to make these remarks about it,” he said.