Irish Labour proposes gay union law

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Ireland’s Labour Party has introduced a Civil Unions Bill into parliament, just hours after the High Court in Dublin declared that a lesbian couple’s Canadian marriage could not be accepted in the country.

Labour’s Civil Unions Bill, would provide legal recognition and protection for couples of the same sex.

Labour Party Leader Pat Rabbitte said: “If passed, this Bill would have an immediate, significant and practical impact on the everyday lives of gay and lesbian couples. Those who choose to enter into a civil union would enjoy vital legal rights which married couples take for granted, in areas such as inheritance and taxation.

“The Bill would bring to end many of the routine forms of institutionalised discrimination that exist in our society and which impinge on in a very real way on people’s lives.”

It comes after High Court Judge Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne dismissed a gay marriage case this afternoon in a 138 page ruling which said marriage could only be defined between members of the opposite sex.

She did recognise that same sex couples may face difficulties because of this, but said legislation should be introduced to amend that.

Mr Rabbitte added, “Achieving full equality for gay and lesbian couples is one of the great civil rights causes of our times.”

Last month, Ireland’s cabinet considered same sex union laws and came up with a registration system, but the State has refused to allow gay marriage.

It concludes that civil partnerships would “address the majority of the issues encountered by same-sex couples.”

Unlike in the UK, the civil partnership scheme would apply to both same sex and mixed couples.

The report also said same sex couples in civil partnerships should be allowed to adopt.

It will now await a start date to be considered by the government.

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern has previously backed a civil partnership scheme, while the Irish Green Party backs full marriage rights for gay couples.