Irish Human Rights Commission report backs civil partnerships for couples of the same sex.

Civil Partnerships for same-sex couples have been legal in Northern Ireland since December 2005. The Irish Human Rights Commission (IHRC) is now asking that the government in the Republic of Ireland to follow suit.

A report published by the IHRC titled 'The Rights of Defacto Couples' concludes that there is a compelling case for the state to allow civil partnerships for same-sex couples. However, the report does not back full civil marriage.

It found that same-sex couples are discriminated against in many areas of legislation.

The report found that same-sex couples experience discrimination when it comes to pensions, inheritance and property, and domestic violence. It says that such discrimination could contravene international human rights conventions.

Co-author of the report Judy Walsh says that the approach to same-sex couples is somewhat ad-hoc and identifies a need for a broader piece of legislation.

At the launch of the report, the Minister for Justice Michael McDowell said that same-sex legislation is coming. He argues that while society is ready for change most same-sex couples do not actually want full civil marriage. He said that most people do not want to fully dismantle the institution of marriage or a family based on marriage.

Eoin Collins of the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network is disappointed that the IHRC has not come out in favour of full equality.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 12 May 2006. The reporter is Will Goodbody.