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Irish commission supports rights for same-sex couples

Irish commission supports rights for same-sex couples

Cohabiting couples, including those in same-sex relationships, should be given a wide range of legal rights, according to a report published on Tuesday by Ireland's legal watchdog group, the Law Reform Commission. Headed by a judge, the state-funded commission recommended legal rights and protections for couples with regard to property, pensions, inheritance law, health care, taxes, maintenance, and domestic violence. Reforms would apply to "qualified cohabitees," defined by the commission as people who live together in a "marriage-like" relationship for a continuous period of two to three years. A 2002 census showed there were 77,600 cohabiting couples in Ireland, and the number of same-sex cohabiting couples increased from about 150 in 1996 to almost 1,300. The commission said marriage-like relationships may exist between people of the same sex. Gay and lesbian partners should be regarded "as being capable of cohabiting" for the purpose of the reforms. Ireland does not legally recognize marriage for same-sex couples.

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