Sunday 4 December 2016

No side accused of 'changing the subject' ahead of marriage referendum - Varadkar

Published 18/05/2015 | 23:37

Health Minister Leo Varadkar
Health Minister Leo Varadkar

HEALTH Minister Leo Varadkar says the ‘No’ side in the same sex marriage referendum campaign is “changing the subject” as it fears losing Friday’s vote.

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Mr Varadkar was speaking on the Claire Byrne Live programme on RTE where he said those opposing the constitutional change are introducing “extraneous issues” into the debate.

“What the no side are doing is a classic tactic. When you can’t win an argument on its merits you try and change the subject. We’ve seen that happen so many times in referendums in the past,” he said.

Later he added: “They know they can’t win on that argument so they change the argument to bring in all sorts of extraneous issues.”

Addressing the issue of surrogacy, he said planned legislation will allow for altruistic surrogacy but will outlaw commercial surrogacy.

“There will not be wombs for hire, there will be no baby fairs. That will not be allowed in Ireland,” he said.

He said nobody would have a right to adopt a child and all couples, regardless of sexuality, would face a rigorous application process.

When put to him that the referendum passing would mean the State could no longer say heterosexual couples, in the interest of surrogacy are better than same-sex parents, he said same-sex relationships are different “but can also be equal”.

“Being a good a parent is about your parenting skills and your capacity for love. It’s not about your gender, your sexual orientation or anything like that,” he said.

Speaking on behalf of the No side, Senior Counsel Patrick Treacy said passing the referendum would require all people to “engage in the pretence” that heterosexual relationships and same-sex relationships are the same.

“Our constitution has to be of the highest standards and has to be impeccable, it has to be flawless” he said.

He accepted that, excluding issues like surrogacy, same-sex and heterosexual relationships were equal but said there is a “misconception about what equality is”.

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