Ireland to Introduce Civil Partnership Legislation

Ireland appears to be moving one step closer to marriage equality:

Ireland“Minister for Justice Brian Lenihan said he would publish an outline of his legislation by March 30th and vowed it would become law during the lifetime of the current Government. ‘The Government has asked me to prepare a Bill which will provide for the registration of civil partnerships of same sex couples,’ Mr Lenihan said. ‘It will also provide protection for other relationships which lie outside marriage but which may be heterosexual or same sex.’ Currently gay and lesbian couples cannot marry each other under Irish law and are therefore ineligible for the legal benefits that apply to heterosexual married couples. Legislation for civil partnerships during the lifetime of the Coalition was promised in the Programme for Government…Green Party justice spokesman Ciarán Cuffe said the Government proposal would give cohabiting gay and lesbian couples, who register their relationship with a new agency, the same rights under the law as heterosexual couples. ‘This is a major step forward in Irish equality legislation,’ he said.”

Last July at the opening of a renovated LGBT community center in Dublin, Ireland’s Taoiseach Bertie Ahern promised to push legislation that would allow same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual married couples as soon as possible.


  1. says

    This means that I will be able to formalize my relationship with my long term American partner (whilst we are in Ireland) and I’m delighted that – in the near future – I will be able to do so.

    But of course once we land at JFK all bets are off again.

    It’s infuriating that some modern democracies can clearly see the inherent fairness of this arrangement whilst others still blatantly argue to deprive a sizeable minority of their rights.

  2. janine says

    This is good news for Ireland. Ireland will join Canada, the UK, five states in the USA, and South Africa, which all have gay marriage or gay civil unions. Silly old Australia still doesn’t have either.

  3. keith says

    Janine, I didn’t realize that Australia was so backward on recognition of gay relationships. I always thought Australia was a pretty open-minded place. Oh, well, looks like I’ll have to scratch Australia from my “to visit” places.

  4. johnnzboy says

    C’mon Janine, don’t forget New Zealand, which brought in civil unions in 2005… And as for anyone thinking that Australia was “an open-minded place”, ask the Aborigines about that…

  5. Bill Perdue, RainbowRED says

    The bill by the Irish Labour Party may not have enough votes to pass given the Green’s treachery in joining Fianna Fáil (the equivalent of the Democrats here) in blocking it.

    Sinn Féin, the all Ireland socialist, pro-independence party, has grown at the expense of the Greens in the Republic. In the English occupied north of Ireland it’s the authentic voice of Irish independence. It’s only rival in the north, the Social Democratic and Labour Party, has, like the Democrats here, taken a turn to the right. SF’s impressive political gains have been won at the expense of the Greens in the Republic and the SDLP in the north.

    Sinn Féin’s taken a uniquely strong stand against the bigotry of the roman cult and for GLBT rights. It’s currently moving to broaden its appeal to the GLBT communities and working people and organize to attract a wider vote.

  6. Ben D. says

    FASTLAD – Skip JFK, you need to start flying into Newark, NJ. Civil Unions in place since February 2007.

  7. Mike says

    Australia recognises gay relationships for many matters (including emigration), but doesn’t have any form of civil union. It’s mainly the current prime minister who is not open-minded on the subject, but as he’s likely to lose his seat in parliament at the national elections this month. You might have to check back here for the results, because I’ve never known them to be reported in the US media.

  8. Sean R says

    Its a bit more complicated that your blog entry allows, Andy. We are quite a bit away from same-sex partnership law. My view is that there are already calls for gay marriage.

    The Labour Party introduced a Civil Union Bill last February but it was voted down by the last Fianna Fail/Progressive Democrat Government. At that time, the then Minister for Justice (who lost his seat at the 2007 general election ) asked the Irish Parliament to return to the issue in six months [hence the debate on same yesterday).

    The Govt again has rejected the Labour Civil Union Bill, citing introducing same-sex unions is “complex”, and they offer to introduce the Heads of Agreement for a Bill (ie not the legislation proper but an outline) next March. Many in the Irish LGBT community are quite angry at this delay tactic, and it has led to the radicalisation of many ordinary lesbians and gay men who would not normally care about politics. The Bill has, therefore, created great ahort-term embarrassment, but may ultimately lead to reform in 2008. Why there could not be all-party accord on this is puzzling, but I sense the Catholic Church behind the stalling tactics.

    Without wishing to labour on an ‘anorak point’, people should not think that SF is so heavily implicated in the debate (Rainbowred’s post is just SF propaganda for a minor leftwing party), it is the Irish Labour Party which is leading on this. You can find more on or

  9. Bill Perdue, RainbowRED says

    Their website says “Sinn Fein supports the rights of all to cohabit, to found a family (including by adoption) and to enter into marriage or civil partnership regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

    “We seek to build an Ireland of Equals and are determined to eliminate all discrimination on this island, including all forms of discrimination against same sex and non-married couples and families.”
    Considering that recent public opinion polls in the Republic show that 84 percent are in favor of some recognition of same-sex couples while 53 percent would allow gay couples to marry, perhaps the Sinn Féin call for equality of marriage rights is more in line with public sentiment than you would expect from a ‘small left wing party.’

    Sinn Féin has undergone an explosive growth in the occupied north, where it’s the second largest party and its support is growing in the Republic. Its growth has been at the expense of the Greens, particularly in Dublin. It still has to develop a rounded trade union approach because for so long its perspectives were focused on military self defense and the civil rights of Irish in the occupied the north, which the Irish Labour Party largely abstained from. Supporting consumer and populist issues is important but it’s no substitute for the creation of SF supporter groups in trade unions and a militant intervenion in strikes and organizing.

    If the greens continue to turn right they’ll lose much of their base and then SF’s gains will be at the expense of other parties. Perhaps that chilly thought motivates the dismissive character of Sean R.’s redundant remarks. My claims that SF is a militant advocate for LGBT rights who are unafraid to take on the roman cult are completely valid and not a criticism of Labour’s introduction of their bill.

  10. says

    As Sean says it would seem that we are further away than ever from equality – where there are recommendations aplenty from government bodies for civil unions and marriage. What this week is being hinted at being introduced is a form of domestic partnership registration and this only sometime in the next four years. Further discussion and analysis of this can be found on my blog and other places.