A welcome decision on same-sex marriage by the ECHR

Last week’s ruling that the European Convention on Human Rights does not confer an obligation on signatory states Councilto recognise either same-sex marriage or civil partnerships is a welcome one to say the least.

It is doubly welcome because the European Court of Human Rights (part of the Council of Europe) is normally so liberal. This is the same court that found Ireland’s law criminalising homosexual acts was against the convention (a ruling I agreed with, by the way), which found in favour of Ireland’s virtual prohibition on religious advertising on the airwaves and most recently and controversially found against the Italian policy of allowing crucifixes to appear on the walls of state classrooms. So this court has a history, and it is a history of ideological bias and liberal activism.

In addition to finding that the Convention does not require same-sex marriage or civil partnerships, it ruled that this does not amount to discrimination. Gay activists insist that not permitting gay marriage is discrimination but of course it is not discrimination in the common meaning of the word to treat different situations in different ways.

Last week’s ruling has received very little publicity here. No doubt if it had gone the other way we would all have heard about it and it would be used to give added impetus to Government plans to legalise same-sex civil unions and indeed to press for same-sex marriage as well.

The Civil Partnership Bill is before the Dail again this week. Those with misgivings about the Bill should feel free to use the ruling to back up their misgivings.