Unmarried gay and straight couples can now adopt a child in Ireland

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Gay and straight couples who have been living together can now apply to adopt a child in the Republic of Ireland, even if they are not married.

Such couples must have been living together for at least three years.

Additionally, gay couples who are in a civil partnership but have chosen not to convert the partnership into a marriage will also be able to apply to adopt, The Irish Independent reports.

A small child draws a rainbow on the pavement
The best interests of the child are recognised as the most important consideration in any adoption application (Creative Commons)

The law will officially change tomorrow after Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone signed the commencement order for the provisions of the Adoption (Amendment) Act 2017.

A number of other changes have been made to adoption laws with the act, including tweaks to the system for individuals who have remarried.

Related: Same-sex parents now account for 1 in 10 adoptions

Adoption Authority chief executive Patricia Carey said: “The best interests of the child are recognised as the most important consideration in any adoption application.

“There is a detailed list of considerations in the amendment to be applied when judging the best interests of the child.

“These focus on how an adoption will likely affect the child and it also makes it clear that the child’s own opinion is very important.”

The Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010 gave same-sex couples in Ireland the right to enter into Civil Partnerships.

This gave these couples similar but not identical rights to those in married couples.

Couple cutting cake
A gay couple cut their wedding cake (rawpixel)

The adoption laws were one such area were these rights were not equal.

Same-sex marriage was signed into Irish law in 2015, with the first same-sex-weddings taking place in November of that year.

Earlier this year, the European Parliament adopted a report backing EU-wide recognition of adoptions regardless of the parents’ sexual orientation.

The report paved the way for future EU legislation to permit “automatic cross-border recognition of domestic adoption orders” throughout the EU.