Celebrity painter to challenge ban on gay marriages
Allison Bray CELEBRITY painter Kevin Sharkey is to challenge Ireland's ban on gay marriage in the European Court of Human Rights.
The Dublin-born artist said he has abandoned plans to wed his long-term male partner Ade Antigha in Ibiza, Spain in favour of getting hitched in his home country, which unlike Northern Ireland, has yet to sanction civil partnerships for gay couples.
Although he and his former police sergeant partner had planned to wed in Spain where he spends his winters, he said such a ceremony would not be legally recognised in his home country.
"The wedding's on hold. It was all going to go ahead. But I was born in Dublin and raised in Ireland and I really don't see why I should go to a foreign country to make a commitment to someone," he said.
He confirmed his intentions to force the issue by law after civil unions for same sex partners became legal in the UK this week, with so-called "gay weddings".
Justice Minister Michael McDowell has also announced that he is considering a similar law in Ireland that stops short of gay marriage as seen in Canada, but does confer property and inheritance rights and other benefits to non-married couples.
The abstract artist has attracted admiration from high-profile art lovers, including celebrity chef Nigella Lawson and advertising guru Charles Saatchi as well as Bob Geldof.