A bill that recognizes gay and lesbian
couples with civil partnerships was adopted by Ireland's governing
body Thursday and is expected to become law in the fall.
Justice Minister Dermot Ahern's Civil
Partnership Bill grants gay couples most of the rights and
obligations of marriage.
Ahern said the new bill “will change
the legal landscape” for gay couples.
Ireland reversed a law that made being
gay a criminal offense in 1993. Since then, the nation has banned
discrimination based on sexual orientation and opened the military to
gay and lesbian service members. But lawmakers refuse to recognize
gender identity and gay men are banned from donating blood. (A
similar prohibition to donating blood was recently upheld in the
The bill has received a mixed reception
from gay rights groups. Some say only marriage will suffice, while
others believe the legislation is flawed because it does not
recognize gay couples with children as joint parents.
“A continuing area of concern for
GLEN however, is the absence in the bill of support and recognition
of the many children being parented by same-sex couples,” Kieran
Rose, chairman of Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN), said in a
statement. “This critical omission will have to be addressed.”
Ireland's largest marriage equality
Noise, has panned the bill, saying it would “force gay couples
to participate in their own discrimination.”
Lawmakers say implementing gay marriage
would violate the Irish Constitution.
Two European nations – Portugal
– have legalized gay marriage this year.