DUBLIN (Reuters) – Ireland recognized the legal rights of same-sex couples for the first time Friday in a civil partnership bill that gave people in long-term relationships many of the statutory rights of married couples.
But it stopped short of recognizing civil marriage. There are strong rights conferred to marriage under the constitution of the traditionally Catholic country, which was amended to lift a ban on divorce in 1995.
"This bill provides legal protection for cohabiting couples and is an important step, particularly for same-sex couples, whose relationships have not previously been given legal recognition by the state," Justice Minister Dermot Ahern said in a statement.
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