This week, Ireland began recognizing same-sex marriages and domestic partnerships that were entered into abroad, a change that is part of Ireland’s new civil partnership law that aims to give same-sex couples most of the rights married heterosexual couples enjoy.
This recognition forms part of the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010 that was passed before Christmas. It will cover same-sex marriages and partnerships from 27 jurisdictions. It should be noted that couples from 17 of those territories where same-sex partners have been allowed to marry will see heir partnerships automatically downgraded to civil partnerships.
However, some unions such as French PACS will not be honored because it has been determined they do not offer the same level of rights as marriage and therefore can not be converted to civil partnerships.
The Act ensures same-sex partners will be treated in the same way as married spouses under Ireland’s tax and social welfare codes, including maintenance obligations, protection of a shared home, pension rights and succession. The law does not give joint adoption rights however.
That Ireland did not enact a full same-sex marriage law has angered some, yet the move to recognize civil partnerships in such a strongly Catholic country has been welcomed by campaigners who have characterized it as an important first step.
Commenting on the recognition of foreign-registered civil partnerships and marriages Kieran Rose, Glen chairman and co-founder, said it was “fantastic progress for the thousands of lesbian and gay couples who had to go to another country to register their relationships legally”.
“Now it is being recognised in the State and with it a huge number of rights and responsibilities and people are delighted,” he said. Mr Rose also welcomed the prospect of the first civil partnerships which are due be conducted in Ireland later this year.
“I think that a whole series of celebrations are going to be had in April and in the following months and years in what will be a great time for Ireland. Everyone enjoys a wedding and people’s loved ones will now be able to participate in their joy,” he said.
An exact figure on how many same-sex couples living in Ireland will be affected by this change has not been calculated, but Ireland’s state broadcaster, RTE, estimates the number to be in excess of 1,000.
The civil partnerships law came into force January 1, 2011, and with a three-month waiting period from filing a deceleration of intent, the first civil partnerships will be held in April.
A full list of the 27 jurisdictions whose civil partnerships and civil marriages will be recognized is available on the Irish Department of Justice website.