Same-sex unions get legal approval
The Department of Justice has passed an order giving legal recognition to same-sex partnerships registered in Denmark and three US states.
The order, which came into effect on December 31st 2012, will mean same-sex couples who enter into marriages in Denmark and Washington State and civil unions in Delaware and Hawaii will have their relationships recognised under Irish civil partnership legislation.
Civil partnership legislation in Ireland entitles couples to shared property, pensions and inheritance rights. It also governs rights and obligations following the break-up of relationships. Civil partners are treated in the same way as spouses under tax, social welfare and domestic violence laws.
The order, under the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act, 2010, brings the number of categories of recognised registered relationships to 43, from 35 jurisdictions.
Other countries whose same-sex civil partnerships and marriages have previously been recognised include Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.
The move was welcomed by Kieran Rose, chairman of Glen, (the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network). He said the timing of the order ensured that Irish-based couples who had entered into such legal unions could avail of the same tax laws as pertained to married couples for all of 2012.
Announcing the order, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said it was important that same-sex couples who registered their relationships in other jurisdictions enjoyed the recognition and benefits of the Irish civil partnership legislation on their return or relocation to Ireland.
“As the legislative landscape continues to change internationally, this measure ensures that Ireland remains up to date in this regard and that such registered partners are afforded the full protection of the law,” he said.