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 United States.)

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 group, LGBT 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 and Iceland – have legalized gay marriage this year.