Rights of Same Sex Couples in Ireland Considered in the Equality Authority Report

An audit of legal provisions affecting the partnership rights of same sex couples was published today by the Equality Authority. The report which was written and researched by Dr. John Mee and Ms. Kaye Ronayne identifies a range of legal benefits and obligations under Irish law which are available to married couples but are unavailable those in same sex partnerships.

Speaking at the launch, Kate Hayes, Chairperson of the Equality Authority said:

“We are opening debate that is already happening in may European countries. France, Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark have all taken initiatives in the area of partnership rights for same sex couples. It is a debate that is urgent if we are to address the difficult and often distressing situations that arise in the absence of such rights. “

The report considers a wide range of issues such as succession rights, property rights, taxation, work place benefits as well as questions affecting children in the context of same sex relationships. It clarifies the current legal situation and identifies a deficit of rights as between married couples and people in same sex relationships. While identifying a need for change in this area the purpose. of the report is to be a basis for debate on the wide variety of issues contained in it. It is intended that the audit will provide a starting point for such a debate, which should include legislators, policy makers and members of the gay, lesbian and bisexual communities.

Speaking at the launch, Niall Crowley, Chief Executive of the Equality Authority said:

“Our response to the report must be based on the principles of recognising diversity and that non-discrimination. In this case the recognition of diversity means policy and practice need to take into account that gay and lesbian people form same sex relationships. The principle of non-discrimination challenges us to find the legal formulae so that gay and lesbian people can nominate a partner and that this partner can be identified as a legal beneficiary, next of kin and CO-parent as the need arises.”