The new civil partnership bill for Ireland has been passed in the Dáil. The landmark legislation gives same-sex couples financial and legal protection and is seen as a breakthrough for same-sex couples.
Justice Minister Dermot Ahern said ‘it was one of the most important human rights pieces of legislation the House had dealt with.
Announcing the publication of the bill last summer, he said: “As well as providing for Civil Partnership Registration for same-sex couples, it will also provide certainty as to the status of cohabitation agreements, and a legal safety-net to people living in long term relationships who may otherwise be very vulnerable at the end of a relationship, whether through break-up or through bereavement.”
It creates a legal relationship for same-sex couples, covering registration of civil partnerships, property and financial matters and dissolution of the partnership.
It also offer financial protection for co-habiting heterosexual couples with the safety net of a redress scheme in the event of economic vulnerability at the end of the relationship.
The bill will ensure that those in civil partnerships are entitled to the same benefits as married couples based on the fact that they are in long term relationships, though civil partnership is not the same as marriage from a legal perspective.
Labour’s Brendan Howlin, said the bill gives real, practical benefits to thousands of people and brings the country further along the road to equality.
Civil rights groups have said it will transform the lives of thousands of couples.
The bill will go before the Seanad next week.