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Ireland government pledges civil unions legislation

[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.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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