Commission consider clarifying surrogacy question

No campaign poster prompts "dozens" of complaints to Referendum Commission

Poster urging voters to reject a proposed referendum to the Constitution.

Poster urging voters to reject a proposed referendum to the Constitution.

 

A No campaign poster has prompted the Referendum Commission to consider issuing a statement clarifying surrogacy as it relates to the same sex marriage referendum.

The commission said it had received dozens of complaints about a poster from the No side which reads “Surrogacy?” and urges voters to reject the proposed amendment to Article 41 of the Constitution.

The poster from the “Mothers and Father Matter” No campaign group appeared this week in areas of Dublin city. It shows a photo of a toddler along with the banner “Surrogacy?” and the message “She needs her mother for life, not just for nine months—vote No”.

The Referendum Commission said it had received “loads” of calls about the poster. Its secretary Paddy Walsh said the body offers impartial information and, as such, will not get involved in the debate or penalise a particular group for disseminating false or misleading information.

However, Mr Walsh said the commission could publish a statement laying out the facts about a certain area around which it feels there may be some confusion, such as the question of surrogacy.

“There are no laws in relation to what can be said in a debate,” said Mr Walsh. “Each side will say the other is wrong.”

He said if voters were looking for unbiased information on the same sex marriage website, they should visit the Referendum Commission’s website.

So far the website simply states: “The Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 deals with parentage in the cases of donor assisted births but not with surrogacy.

“While the Act has been passed, it is not intended to bring these particular provisions into effect for at least a year.”