Irish law body backs legal rights for gay couples
April 28, 2004
DUBLIN — Cohabiting couples, including those in homosexual relationships,
should be given a wide range of legal rights according to a report
published on Tuesday by Ireland's legal watchdog.
The Law Reform Commission recommended legal rights and
protections in areas such as property, pensions, inheritance law,
healthcare, tax, maintenance and domestic violence.
Reforms would apply to "qualified cohabitees", defined by the
commission as people who live together in a "marriage-like"
relationship for a continuous period of three years or – where
there is a child of the relationship – for two years.
This includes relationships between same-sex or opposite-sex
couples, neither of whom are married to each other or to anybody
The 2002 Census showed there were 77,600 cohabiting couples, an
increase of 46,300 from six years earlier.
The number of same-sex cohabiting couples increased from about
150 in 1996 to almost 1,300, two-thirds of them male couples.
The commission said "marriage-like" relationships may exist
between people of the same-sex. Homosexual partners should be
regarded "as being capable of cohabiting" for the purpose of the
Ireland does not recognize homosexual marriages.
Homosexuality was decriminalised in the predominantly Roman
Catholic country in 1993.
The change followed a 1988 European Court ruling that Ireland
was in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Headed by a judge, the state-funded Commission is an independent
body charged with keeping Ireland's laws under review and
recommending reforms. – Sapa-AFP
From Marriage rights to murder: how the world treats gays [07/10/1998]