Great news from Ireland’s Gay and Lesbian Equality Network:

The Minister for Justice and Law Reform Dermot Ahern TD today signed the Commencement Orders for the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights of Cohabitants Act 2010.

Speaking at the signing of the Commencement Orders, Kieran Rose, chair of GLEN said that “with this signing, the Minister is opening up a great and wide vista of futures, opportunities, celebrations and more secure futures for lesbian and gay couples”. [snip]

The Minister also signed orders which will automatically recognise a wide range of foreign same-sex civil marriages and same-sex civil partnerships as Irish civil partnerships. Same-sex couples who are already married or are civil partners through these recognised foreign relationships will be deemed civil partners in Ireland from early January.

The new law goes into effect January 1, 2011 but most civil partnership ceremonies won’t occur until April because couples planning marriages or civil partnerships must give three months notice to the Civil Registrar before having a ceremony.  Exceptions may be granted by a judge in hardship cases.

Civil partnerships were first enacted in 2004 in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, with the first ceremonies taking place in December, 2005.  By the beginning of 2010 over 40,000 couples had registered for civil partnerships in the UK.  

Even as Ireland is enacting its civil partnership law, OutRage!’s Equal Love campaign is challenging the UK’s civil partnership law.

By excluding same-sex couples from civil marriage, and different-sex couples from civil partnership, the UK government is discriminating on the grounds of sexual orientation, contrary to the human rights act,” said Prof Robert Wintemute, professor of human rights law at Kings College London and legal adviser to the couples. [snip]

In a similar case in June this year the European court of human rights ruled that the European convention on human rights was not violated in Austria, which would not allow two men, Horst Schalk and Johan Kopf, to marry. In that case the court found that the convention did not impose an obligation on European governments to allow same-sex marriage. However Wintemute said that because civil partnerships in the UK give couples the same rights as married couples – unlike in Austria – there is no justification for the UK to withhold access to both arrangements for all.

Fingers crossed for the success of Equal Love’s challenge!  In the mean time, the new civil partnership law in Ireland will allow LGBT couples living or traveling there the same vital legal protections they need to protect their families.

Details on Ireland’s new law and links to the Registrar’s Office can be found at Gay and Lesbian Equality Network‘s website.

UPDATE FROM PAM: We received a note about this video:

The signing of the Civil Partnership Commencement Orders by Dermot Ahern TD, Minister for Justice and Law Reform on Thursday 23rd December 2010 in the Clonliffe Room, Jury’s Hotel, Croke Park Stadium, Jones Road, Dublin.

The signing of a Commencement Order is a rarely seen final part of the process to implement an Act which has been passed by the Oireachtas (Irish Parliament), then signed into law by Uachtar?in na hEireann (President of Ireland) and finally implemented on the signing of the Commencement Order by the responsible Government Minister.

The title of the Act is ‘Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010’ and was first presented to D?il ?ireann (lower house of the Irish Parliament) at the First Stage on 24th June 2009 (entitled ‘Civil Partnership Bill 2009’). Completed the the Fifth Stage without a vote on the 1st July 2010. Presented to Seanad ?ireann (upper house of the Irish Parliament) on the 7th July 2010. It finally passed both houses of the Oireachtas (Irish Parliament) on the 8th July 2010 after a vote of 48 to 4. It was signed into law by Mary McAlese, Uachtar?in na hEireann (President of Ireland), on the 19th July 2010. The signing of the Commencement Order was on 23rd December 2010, the commence date is 3rd January 2011. For a full history of the Act please see the website.

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