LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

Ireland does not recognise Canadian same-sex marriage

On 14 December 2006, Judge Elizabeth Dunne of the Irish High Court ruled that same-sex marriage registered in Canada cannot be recognised in Ireland because of the current marriage definition in the Irish Constitution.

This decision is a result of a legal challenge to the Irish marriage law brought by Drs Katherine Zappone and Ann Louise Gilligan, partners of 25 years who married in Canada in 2003.

A similar decision was delivered by the High Court of England and Wales last July when two women officially married in Canada sought legal recognition of their marriage in the UK.

ILGA-Europe is disappointed by the decision of the Irish High Court not to recognise a marriage legally registered in Canada. However ILGA-Europe welcomes current debate in Ireland regarding the legal recognition of same-sex unions and awaits legislative proposals of the Irish government.

Patricia Prendiville, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe, said:

“It is very disappointing and unfair that two peoples’ love which is officially acknowledged and recognised in one country cannot be treated with equal respect and dignity in another country. It is disturbing that same-sex families enjoying certain rights and responsibilities in one country are denied these rights and responsibilities in other countries which do not recognise same-sex families.

This is exactly what ILGA-Europe is fighting for – equality and dignity for same-sex partners across Europe. The fundamental issue is that same-sex families should enjoy exactly the same dignity and respect of the law as heterosexual families. Europe cannot continue a situation in which families granted full equality and respect having moved to or within Europe are striped of such recognition.”


For more information please contact
Juris Lavrikovs at + 32 2 609 54 16 / + 32 496 708 375

Notes for editors:

(1) ILGA-Europe is the European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association and works for equality and human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Europe.

(2) ILGA-Europe key demands to advance the recognition of diverse families:

(2) Same-sex unions are legally recognised in various European countries. Further details on the legal recognition of same-sex unions in Europe at our website:

(4) More information on developments in Ireland: