Successful Grants: Civil Partnership for Same-Sex Couples

Resource type: News

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Michael Murphy (left) and Terry O’Sullivan celebrate their civil partnership. Photo: Irish Independent

Until 1994, Irish law still criminalized homosexual conduct. When The Atlantic Philanthropies entered the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) field in 2004, there were no other significant private funders in the area and only one full-time person in Ireland working on national strategy.

The grants
Following research and consultation, Atlantic concluded that sustainable social change in this area could be achieved through a multi-annual grants programme aimed at building capacity. In September 2004, Atlantic provided a short-term grant to support a small national policy organization, the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN), to secure the necessary capacity to develop its strategic plan. This was followed in 2005 by a five-year core grant. These grants gave GLEN the financial means and security to attract and retain seven highly qualified staff. These, in turn, helped GLEN implement its approach of principled ‘pragmatism’. It set out to achieve legislative change by consolidating its support, winning over the middle ground and neutralizing opposition. GLEN assiduously developed an extensive network of relationships at government and political levels and came to be regarded as both a source of expertise on legal recognition and a ‘trusted’ partner in the sense that it understood the constraints and choices facing government officials and politicians.

Results
In 2010, legislation was passed allowing same-sex couples in Ireland to enter a civil partnership, which carries an extensive range of marriage-like rights and obligations. What’s more, the law was passed with near unanimous support by a coalition government led by a conservative political party in a largely Catholic country. The legislation has also laid the ground for rapid progress towards civil marriage, with all Ireland’s political parties making public moves in that direction.

Key facts

  • Capacity-building grant, September 2004: €266,000
  • Five-year core grant, from January 2006: €2,100,000

Learn more

> Visit GLEN website

GLEN (Gay and Lesbian Equality Network) is an Atlantic grantee.