The Irish Supreme Court has ruled that a gay man who donated his sperm to a lesbian couple should be permitted to see his 3-year-old son regularly — in part because Ireland's constitution doesn't recognize the lesbians as a valid family unit.

Thursday's ruling was a first in Ireland, where homosexuality was outlawed until 1993 and gay couples are denied many rights given to married couples. A proposed law being debated this month in Irish parliament would give gay couples many marriage-style rights, but offers no legal recognition of their right to be parents.

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the man was legally the child's father and that a lower court was wrong to identify the lesbian couple as a family. It ordered the lesbians to give him visitation rights.