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Ireland allows civil unions

Irish gays and lesbians will soon be able to gain legal recognition for their same sex unions after President Mary McAleese signed a new Bill into law yesterday.

Under the terms of the Civil Partnership Bill, marriage-like benefits will be extended to gay and lesbian couples across areas such as property, social welfare, succession, maintenance, pensions and tax.

But the first civil unions will not be possible until the New Year — because the tax and social welfare changes have to be made by the departments of Finance and Social Protection.

Gay and lesbian couples who entered into a civil partnership in Northern Ireland — or a gay marriage in the USA — will have their unions automatically recognised once the supporting legislation comes into force in the New Year.

The Bill was passed without a vote in the Dail and also won a majority in the Seanad.

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