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Last Updated: Monday, 15 November, 2004, 11:09 GMT
'Better rights' for gay couples
Bertie Ahern:
Bertie Ahern: "These relationships are not illegal"
Ireland should give greater rights to homosexual couples but any moves to legalise gay marriage are "a long way off," Bertie Ahern has said.

The Irish prime minister was responding to a legal challenge by a lesbian couple seeking equal rights to married couples under Irish law.

Mr Ahern told Irish state broadcaster RTE: "They say: 'We want more equality and we want to be treated fairer.' I agree with that.

"I totally agree with that. These people who are in relationships which are not illegal, they're not immoral, they're not improper.

"We should try to deal with some of the issues they have to surmount in their daily lives.

"And I think that's the fairest, caring and Christian way to deal with this."

Louise Gilligan and Catherine Zappone
Louise Gilligan and Catherine Zappone
Ann Louise Gilligan and Katherine Zappone wed in Canada last year.

When they got back home to Brittas in County Dublin they asked the tax authorities if they could file their returns as a married couple.

But the Revenue Commissioners rejected their application, which would have meant they paid less tax.

Last Tuesday, the High Court ruled that the couple will get a full hearing to seek a judicial review.

He said the case was not simply about tax bands or treatment of married or unmarried people, but had profound implications for same sex marriages and for society as a whole.

An all-party parliamentary committee is currently considering substantial reform to Ireland's family law, including the question of whether to grant greater rights to unmarried couples, including gays.

The 2001 census recorded 77,600 households of unmarried partners with 1,300 being gay couples. Unmarried couples pay higher income and inheritance tax.




SEE ALSO:
Gay couple granted legal review
09 Nov 04 |  Northern Ireland



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