Two-hundred-seventy-three gay couples
began preparing to enter civil partnerships in Ireland as a new law
came on line Tuesday.
The Republic of Ireland's civil
partnerships law came into force in January but a three-month waiting
period pushed the first couples' nuptials back until this week.
Kieran Rose of the gay rights group Gay
and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) said the ceremonies were a “very
“Lesbian and gay couples have been
waiting for years to have their relationships recognized and
protected by the state,” Rose said.
Dubliners Barry Dignam and Hugh Walsh
were the first couple to celebrate a civil partnership on Tuesday.
“This change is a pretty sizeable
change although it is a pity it's not full marriage,” Dignam told
the Irish Times.
He went on to note
that many in the gay community believe only marriage would level the
playing field: “They are right as well. Anything which is not
equality is not equal.”
The couple are
tying the knot nearly 20 years into their relationship.
But the men are not
the first to have their relationship recognized by the state. The
state had granted six exceptions to the usual waiting period.
Another 267 couples
have given the government notice of intention to enter the union, the
Department of Social Protection said on April 1.
decriminalized gay sex in 1993.
legalized civil partnerships in 2005.