Eamon Gilmore says his support for gay marriage 'is a Labour policy not Coalition's'
TANAISTE Eamon Gilmore's backing for gay marriage is Labour's way, not the Government's way, he has claimed.
Mr Gilmore has confirmed he is speaking for the Labour Party, and not the Coalition, when he says the gay marriage is an issue "whose time is come".
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has repeatedly refused to support Mr Gilmore's stance, saying he speaks for the Government.
The Government's official position is gay marriage will be considered by the planned political reform think tank, the Constitutional Convention.
But Mr Kenny has not given a guarantee to hold a referendum on any changes the group comes up with.
Speaking at a major international conference on gay rights, Mr Gilmore once again threw his weight behind gay marriage.
"I think the whole position of gay and lesbian people has changed very dramatically over the course of the last 20 or 30 years. Ireland is now a much more tolerant society than it was back then. I believe gay marriage is an issue whose time has come.
"I believe it is a civil rights issue. It is something that is going to be considered by the Constitutional Convention," he said.
Although he was representing the Government at the conference, Mr Gilmore said his views on gay marriage were personal.
"As a Government, we are committed to developing legislation to provide for the recognition of transgender people. And as I have stated elsewhere, the right of same-sex couples to marry is not a gay rights issue, it is a civil rights issue," he said.
Mr Gilmore said he was not disappointed with Mr Kenny's refusal to also back gay marriage: "I am expressing the point of view of the Labour Party. The Government's position is that gay marriage will be addressed by the Constitutional Convention."
Mr Gilmore was delivering the closing address at the Ballsbridge Hotel in Dublin at Europe's largest annual conference of those working on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) rights -- the 16th ILGA-Europe conference.
The conference's chairman, Tiernan Brady, said Mr Gilmore's presence at the conference was a "remarkable symbol of the progress that has taken place in Ireland".
"The Tanaiste's presence sent a powerful message of hope to those delegates coming from countries where LGBTI people are under daily threat, and where opportunities for progress are limited," he said.
It was the first time the conference had come to Ireland and the first time in its history it was addressed by a deputy prime minister.
A new opinion poll, meanwhile, shows two out of three people are in favour of gay marriage. The Behaviour and Attitudes poll for the 'Sunday Times' shows 66pc believe the law should be changed to allow for full same-sex marriage.