Dentist in new gender legal bid

A transgender dentist is to launch a fresh legal challenge for a new birth certificate recognising her as female.

Five years ago, Dr Lydia Foy, who was registered at birth as a male, won a High Court case which found the State had violated her rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

The State later dropped its appeal against the ruling, paving the way for legislation recognising transgender people in their new identity to be introduced.

Legal rights group Flac revealed it has issued fresh proceedings on behalf of Dr Foy. Michael Farrell, Flac solicitor, said it had been a long and painful journey for the dentist.

“Dr Foy has had her hopes raised several times only to have them dashed again. The courts have ruled that her rights have been violated but nothing changes. It is deeply unfair to make her wait any longer.”

It is 20 years since Dr Foy first applied for a new birth certificate and 16 years since she began legal proceedings to secure recognition of her acquired gender.

She plans to ask the High Court to declare that the Government is obliged under the ECHR or the Constitution to introduce legislation to recognise her, and other transgender persons, in their acquired gender.

Alternatively, she is wants the court to declare that the ECHR Act 2003, which was introduced to incorporate the convention into Irish law, is ineffective.

“Ireland is now the only state in the EU that has no legal provision at all for recognising transgender persons in their acquired gender,” Mr Farrell said yesterday.

“It is ironic that the Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore is to address the UN Human Rights Council today and is expected to speak about LGBTI [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex] issues when the Irish Government is clearly in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights on this issue.”

The Department of Social Protection said it has been working on developing the first stage of legislation for gender recognition since an advisory group recommended a scheme for recognition, which was approved by the Government in Jul 2011.

It maintained officials have been engaged with medical health professionals and representatives from NGOs, but given the legal complexities involved in relation to some of the recommendations on marital and civil partnership status, advice from the Office of the Attorney General was sought.

“The formal opinion of the Attorney General was received in the department in Dec 2012 and is currently under consideration by officials and the department’s legal adviser with a view to progressing the draft heads of the bill,” said the department.

Once this process is completed, the proposed legislation will be discussed at the joint Oireachtas committee on jobs, social protection, and education, it said.

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