[JURIST] The government of Ireland said Thursday it will introduce new legislation next year recognizing the rights of both same-sex and unmarried heterosexual couples to enter into civil unions, after debate [text] on a motion to restore the Civil Unions Bill 2006 [party backgrounder] stalled in the Irish Parliament [official website]. The opposition Irish Labour Party re-introduced [press release] the bill, previously debated in February 2007, earlier this week.
The government rejected the measure on the grounds it would violate the Irish constitution [text] by essentially granting married and unmarried couples the same legal entitlements. The Labour Party immediately expressed disappointment [press release] with the government's decision. The Belfast Telegraph has more.
The High Court of Ireland [official website] last December refused [JURIST report] to recognize the same-sex marriage [JURIST news archive] of a lesbian couple married in Canada in 2003, ruling that the Irish constitution does not permit recognition of such a union. Earlier in 2006, the Irish Human Rights Commission [official website], a government-appointed advisory body, concluded that Ireland may be in breach of international human rights laws [JURIST report] because the country does not recognize same-sex marriages and gives more rights to married couples than to gay couples or unmarried heterosexual couples.