Irish government readies proposal for same-sex unions
Dublin, Apr. 1, 2008 (CWNews.com) - The Irish government will soon introduce legislation giving same-sex couples most of the legal benefits of marriage, the Irish Times reports.
The government is completing preparation of a Civil Partnership bill that will give homosexual couples the rights to pension, welfare, and tax benefits similar to those of married couples. The bill would also provide for dissolution of same-sex unions, through a process mirroring existing divorce law.
The legislation will not allow for same-sex couples to adopt children, the Times reports. But negotiations are continuing about a provision that would recognize the legal custody of same-sex couples already living with children.
Last February the Irish government urged postponement of debate on a legislative proposal that would have recognized civil unions for same-sex couple. Government leaders explained that they were concerned about the prospects for a constitutional challenge to the proposal, and preferred to introduce comprehensive legislation after a thorough study.
In December the government's justice minister, Brian Lenihan, reassured members of the Gay and Lesbian Network (GLEN) that the government is "committed to providing a more supportive and secure legal environment for same-sex couples."
The legislation now under discussion is a detailed bill, running to about 200 pages, according to the Irish Times report. After final revisions it could be unveiled next week.
GLEN welcomed news of the pending legislation, saying that it would be a "critical psychological milestone" for Irish homosexuals.
This is not quite marriage, but it’s as good as. We have known for some time that such a bill was in the pipeline. Now Melancholicus awaits the reaction of the Irish hierarchy.
He predicts the silence will be defeaning.