Legislation enacting Irish gay marriage vote delayed

DUBLIN (Reuters) – Legislation allowing same-sex couples to marry in Ireland will be delayed until later this year following a legal challenge against last month’s gay marriage referendum, a government minister was quoted as saying on Tuesday.

The government had planned to enact the required laws before parliament goes into recess at the end of July.

However two men who unsuccessfully sought to challenge the result in the High Court will have their case heard by Ireland’s Court of Appeal on July 30, local media reported. According to one of the them, the outcome had been unfairly influenced by government parties that had not been impartial in campaigning for a ‘Yes’ vote.

“If the courts are going to hear a case, we can’t proceed with legislation until that case is decided,” Health Minister Leo Varadkar was quotes as saying in the Irish Times newspaper.

“It is disappointing but we have to respect the division of powers and separation of powers that exists between the courts and the government.”

Results of referendums in Ireland are often challenged in the courts, causing delays in the formality of passing the relevant legislation but not threatening the result.

Same-sex marriage was backed by 62 percent of voters in one of the largest turnouts ever in a referendum in Ireland, marking a dramatic shift in a traditionally Catholic country that only decriminalised homosexuality two decades ago.

“We are most concerned that these appeals are frustrating the overwhelming will of the people as expressed in the referendum,” Kieran Rose, chairman of Ireland’s Gay and Lesbian Equality Network, said in a statement.

(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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