[JURIST] A new report by the Irish Human Rights Commission [advocacy website] released [press release] Friday has found that Ireland may be in breach of international human rights laws because the country does not currently recognize same-sex marriages [JURIST news archive]. The Rights of De Facto Couples [PDF] report notes that Ireland gives more rights to married couples than to gay couples or unmarried heterosexual couples, and also said that the current laws may be breaching the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 [text], which requires equal human rights standards in both mostly-Protestant Northern Ireland and the mostly-Catholic south. Civil partnerships are presently recognized [JURIST report] only in Northern Ireland.
Ireland's Minister for Justice [official website], Michael McDowell [official website], said that the government is planning to discuss a Civil Partnership Bill [Stonewall backgrounder], but actual marriages for same-sex couples will not be recognized. McDowell said he does not expect criticism by church leaders after speaking to many of them who realize that fairness is a top priority in the country, despite their moral views on homosexuality. From Ireland, the Evening Echo has local coverage.