Gender recognition legislation move ‘a step along the way’

“IT’S a wonderful day. We’re making progress,” Dr Lydia Foy declared after Social Protection Minister Joan Burton announced that the Government would introduce gender recognition legislation as soon as possible.

The minister intends to legislate for the recognition of the acquired gender of people on the basis of recommendations of the report of the Gender Recognition Advisory Group.

Dr Foy, aged 64, a former dentist from Athy, Co Kildare, was registered male at birth but had gender reassignment surgery. She has been seeking to be officially recognised as a woman for 20 years.

In 2007, the then government was urged to ensure the rights of transgender people living in Ireland were fully respected following a landmark High Court ruling that the state violated the rights of Dr Foy.

Describing the publication of the report as “a step along the way”, Dr Foy said she regretted it had taken so long, given the European Court of Human rights, which is binding on all EU countries, gave a landmark ruling on the issue in 2002.

“It is about time things got moving I have been battling this for 20 years,” she said.

The main recommendation of the group are that an independent gender recognition panel be established to examine applications.

The panel would issue a gender recognition certificate recognising the gender from that date.

The person would be entitled to marry a person of the opposite sex or enter a civil partner ship with a person of the same sex. They would also be entitled to a new birth certificate.

A person would have to be at least 18, have a clear intention of living in the acquired gender for the rest of their lives and have been living full-time in the new gender during the two years preceding their application.

They would have to furnish a medical diagnosis, with confirmation that the person is not suffering from any other debarring mental disorder or have undergone reassignment surgery.

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties, while broadly welcoming the recommendations for gender recognition, criticised the group’s recommendation to exclude those in a marriage or civil partnership from the proposed gender recognition process.

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