447. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if adoptive leave will be provided for same-sex couples in view of the fact that circular 18/2013 does not cater for the needs of these couples (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25063/18]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton): Section 6 of the Adoptive Leave Act 1995 provides for an entitlement to 24 weeks adoptive leave for an employed adopting mother or a sole male adopter.
Following adoption of the 34th amendment to the Constitution and its subsequent legislative changes, my Department identified a lacuna in the Adoptive Leave Act 1995 that prevents male same-sex married couples from availing of adoptive leave and benefits.
To address this lacuna, my Department has prepared draft legislative proposals that will amend the Adoptive Leave Act and will afford the same entitlements to adoptive leave and benefits to all couples who are married, co-habiting or who are in a civil partnership, irrespective of gender.
My Department is currently reviewing how best to advance these legislative proposals and may include these proposals with those planned on paid parental leave as part of a Family Leave Bill.
The Deputy will appreciate that the circular they have referred to is a matter for the Department of Education and Skills, and once the Adoptive Leave Act is amended as I have outlined, I am sure the Department will make the necessary arrangements to update the circular as a matter of priority.