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Advice on the Civil Partnership Bill 2009

The Civil Partnership Bill 2009 was published on 26 June 2009 by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. The aim of the Bill is to establish a statutory civil partnership registration scheme for same-sex couples and to provide for the rights and obligations of both oppositesex and same-sex cohabitants.

While the Civil Partnership Bill 2009 addresses in significant detail the rights and obligations of civil partners and cohabitants in relation to each other, the Bill does not adequately address the rights and needs of children. It is clear that the situation of children was considered at length in the drafting of the Bill; it is unclear why that resulted in a Bill that did not prioritise the rights and interests of children. Although the situation of same-sex couples will be improved considerably by the enactment of the Civil Partnership Bill, the situation of children with same-sex parents will remain largely as it is at present.

The omission of robust protections for the children of civil partners will have real consequences for the young people concerned and it is in their interests that the law reflect and provide for the reality of their lives.