IN an effort to legalise same-sex marriage, the Irish Government has come alarmingly close to potentially making heterosexual marriage illegal.
Irish voters are due to go to the polls on May 22 in a referendum which could make Ireland the 18th country worldwide to have full marriage equality.
If passed, the new English language legal definition of marriage in Ireland would make it legal for opposite or same-sex couples to wed.
However, the Irish language definition is worded differently and, translated back into English, states: “A couple may, whether they are men or women, make a contract of marriage in accordance with law.”
According to the Irish Times the use of the plural for “men” and “women” could be interpreted as meaning only same-sex couples could marry.
As the Irish language takes precedence in Irish law, heterosexual marriage could then become unconstitutional following a yes vote in the referendum.
The Irish prime minister – or Taoiseach – Enda Kenny confirmed the cabinet had signed off a new Irish wording of the law to ensure voters don’t accidentally choose to annul all the country’s marriages.
In an interesting week of legal loopholes in Ireland, a number of previously illegal drugs – including ecstasy and ketamine – have just been legalised following a high court ruling.
Irish Health Minister Leo Varadkar said emergency legislation would be introduced to “re-instate the status quo ante and re-control all drugs that were controlled prior to this judgement,” reported the Irish Independent.
However, the legislation could take several days to become law.
Varadkar, who is openly gay, has also weighed in on the same-sex marriage debate.
“This is not a bill about ‘gay marriage’, it is about ‘equal marriage’,” he said yesterday in the Dail, the Irish parliament house in Dublin.
“It is about removing the sense of shame and isolation, and humiliation from many who feel excluded.
“It lets them know that Ireland is a country which believes in equality for all its citizens.”
While Ireland’s major parties back same-sex marriage, significant resistance to the change remains particularly within the influential country’s Catholic church.
On Monday, the outspoken Bishop of Elphin Kevin-Doran told radio station Newstalk that while gay couples might have children “people who have children are not necessarily parents”.
Doran also compared homosexuality to Down’s syndrome.