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Ireland's civil partnership law a 'progressive step'

21 July 2010

Ireland's new Civil Partnership Act was signed into law by the President of Ireland on Saturday. Welcoming the Act, Lena Calvert, NUJ Equality Officer, said the union's Equality Council viewed the new law as a progressive step that grants significant rights to same-sex couples.

The NUJ has been to the fore in the ICTU campaign for civil partnership legislation in the Republic. The union highlighted the discrimination that existed on the island of Ireland, with same-sex couples in Northern Ireland enjoying superior rights to those same-sex couples in the Republic.

ICTU policy is based on a motion proposed by the NUJ at the Biennial Delegate Conference last year. The NUJ also tabled a motion at the ICTU Womens' Conference four years ago.

The new Act provides a comprehensive set of protections, rights and obligations for same-sex couples across a wide range of areas including home protections, pensions, taxation, maintenance, next of kin, social welfare, domestic violence, inheritance, enduring power of attorney and creation of joint tenancies.

Social welfare, finance and taxation changes will be implemented in the next in the Social Welfare and Finance Bills following the Budget in December.

Séamus Dooley, Irish Secretary, said the new law will have practical implications once the Minister for Justice signed the commencement order and the first civil partnership ceremonies will take place in early 2011.

Employers and trade unions will have to ensure that agreements and pension scheme provisions take account of the new law.

Séamus Dooley said: 

"While critics of the Act have rightly highlighted the absence of full equality the Seanad debate, in particular, gave a flavour of just how divisive a Constitutional referendum on this issue might be. Gay 'marriage' would require a Constitutional amendment. While such a referendum may take place in the future, incremental change on this scale is a major step.
"On behalf of the NUJ, I would like to pay tribute to all who campaigned for reform in this area, not least NUJ member Senator David Norris and GLEN, the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network."

Tags: , ireland, gay rights, lgbt, equality, ictu, equality council