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Partner of elderly gay man gets state-paid travel pass

September 26, 2003

DUBLIN — Homosexuals in Ireland won new rights Wednesday after the government granted a state-paid travel pass to the younger partner of a gay senior citizen.

Human rights activists said the decision by the government's Social and Family Affairs Department established an important new precedent for gays and lesbians in Ireland, where homosexuality was outlawed until 1993.

Ireland offers passes for free travel on buses and trains to all senior citizens and to their married partners, even if they're not yet 65. In Wednesday's decision, the government conceded that the partner of an elderly homosexual man should be accorded the same privilege.

"That is a very important acknowledgment of the needs and rights of gay and lesbian couples, that a gay partner has the right now to accompany this person on the travel pass," said Niall Crowley, chairman of Ireland's independent Equality Authority, which helped the homosexual couple negotiate with the government. –Sapa-AP



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