LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

Irish presidential commission signs equal marriage act into law

Five months after the widely celebrated referendum, marriage equality has become a reality for same-sex couples in Ireland. 

The Presidential Commission, in place of President Michael D Higgins who is currently visiting the US, signed the Marriage Act 2015 into law today (Thursday, 29 October 2015).

“This is the culmination of decades of work by Irish LGBTI activists and ILGA-Europe send our congratulations to everyone who engaged with the Yes Equality campaign.” said ILGA-Europe Executive Director, Evelyne Paradis. “Tribute must also be paid to national politicians in Ireland, as all the main political parties put aside their partisan differences to campaign for the greater goal of equality.”

The Act itself is quite short and technical in nature, but it is much more than the sum of its parts. This short piece of legislation gives effect to the overwhelming Yes vote from 62% of the Irish voting public on 22 May 2015.  The Marriage Act 2015 will amend the Civil Registration Act 2004 which limited marriage to a union between a man and a woman.

However, the Act’s impact will not be limited to marriage equality alone. Importantly, it will also remove the so-called ‘forced divorce provision’ from the recently passed Gender Recognition Act 2015, allowing for self-determined legal gender recognition for the first time in Ireland. Now, trans people in Ireland who are married or have a civil partner will be able to apply for a gender recognition certificate.

This will increase Ireland's score on our Rainbow Europe Index. The Irish government hope that the first same-sex marriage ceremonies could take place before the end of the year.