23. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she will allow for the provision of a conscientious objection clause in order to safeguard the rights of persons, businesses and other institutions who may be compelled to participate in or provide services for the celebration of same-sex civil partnerships or same-sex marriage, in the event of the upcoming referendum on marriage equality being passed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6970/15]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): As the Deputy will know, when the Government decided on 5 November 2013 that a referendum would be held on the question of enabling same-sex couples to marry, it reiterated its commitment that the freedom of religion of religious solemnisers would be guaranteed. My Department is engaged in the development of the Implementation Bill which will be brought forward if the referendum on the Thirty-fourth Amendment of the Constitution is passed by the people. That Bill will be designed to make the necessary adjustments in existing law, including marriage law, to ensure that the decision of the people is implemented. The issue of guaranteeing the freedom of religion of religious solemnisers will be addressed in that context.
I hope to be in a position to publish the General Scheme of the Implementation Bill in advance of the planned Second Stage debate on the Thirty-fourth Amendment of the Constitution (Marriage Equality) Bill 2015 so that there will be a clear indication as to the legislative changes that are intended to be brought forward if the referendum is approved by the people.