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Ireland has no plans to follow the UK and introduce civil partnerships for opposite-sex couples

The government said that there are no plans to change the law in Ireland.

A UK civil partnership certificate.
A UK civil partnership certificate.
Image: Yui Mok/PA Wire/PA Images

CIVIL PARTNERSHIPS FOR opposite-sex couples are not being planned for Ireland, after the UK law changed to give heterosexual couples the right to become civil partners. 

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice told TheJournal.ie that there are no plans to change the law to provide the option of civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples. 

A civil partnership gives a relationship legal recognition – in terms of legal rights as well as legal responsibilities – that is similar to a marriage.

In 2018, a UK couple won a battle in the Supreme Court to allow them the right to choose civil partnership over marriage. 

The law changed at the end of last year in England and Wales, with changes currently taking place in Scotland.

In Northern Ireland, opposite-sex couples can enter into civil partnerships from today. 

UK law

The right for a civil partnership was extended after Theresa May’s government approved the change of law, which came into effect on December 2.

New Year’s Eve was the first time heterosexual couples could tie the knot in a civil ceremony instead of a marriage because under the new law couples are required to give 28 days notice to register their intent for a civil partnership. 

The couple that led the legal bid to change the law were among the first to enter into a civil partnership. 

Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan signed their civil partnership registration at Kensington and Chelsea Register Office at 10.30am.

The UK government estimates that over 80,000 opposite-sex couples could register as civil partners in 2020. 

The power to grant a new civil partnership no longer exists under Irish law. 

Civil partnerships were introduced in Ireland in 2011 for same-sex couples as part of legislation to give rights to same-sex and cohabiting couples. 

However, following the passing of the referendum in 2015 on legalising same-sex marriage and the enactment of the Marriage Act 2015, civil partnerships ceased to be granted under Irish law. 

gay-marriage-referendum Since the passing of the 2015 referendum, civil partnerships are no longer granted in Ireland. Source: Brian Lawless/PA Archive/PA Images

While same-sex civil partnerships that existed before 2015 are still recognised, all partnerships are dissolved upon marriage. 

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice said that “civil partnership was not extended to opposite-sex couples in Ireland because marriage has always been available to such couples”. 

“It is now open to all couples to marry in a variety of public venues by way of civil, religious or secular ceremony, therefore there are no proposals to provide any form of civil partnership to opposite-sex couples or to reintroduce civil partnership for same-sex couples,” the spokesperson added. 

Many of the first couples in England and Wales to take the opportunity to enter into a civil partnership hailed the change in the law. 

For years, campaigners in the UK had argued that civil partnership offers the legal security of marriage without concerns over religion and gender inequality.

“Absolutely happy that we managed to get to this point, it’s not that I don’t believe in marriage, I think marriage is fine for some people, but it has connotations of patriarchal and religious associations that really didn’t suit us,” Ann “Pee-Wee” Chamings, who tied the knot with her long-term partner John Eccles, said. 

“This now gives us rights, we now finally have the rights that other people had, this has been common in Europe for year,” she said.  

“We’ve had two children and we’ve got to this point today where we finally get the same rights as gay people have had for some years now and married people have had forever.”

“I’m so glad for young couples starting out now that they don’t have to go up the aisle if they don’t want to,” Chamings added. 

With reporting from Press Association

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