IF a nation’s maturity is judged by how it includes and protects the interests of minority groups, then by that simple but demanding yardstick, Ireland is doing pretty well.
Yesterday saw another encouraging example of this when Tánaiste and Social Protection Minister Joan Burton took the final step to ensure that from next week, transgender people will for the first time be formally recognised by the State in their preferred gender, for all purposes.
Effectively, this means that after the Commencement Order for the Gender Recognition Act 2015 comes into force on Tuesday, any transgender person can apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate and subsequently obtain a new birth certificate that reflects their preferred gender. Thanks to a series of earlier measures, transgender people can already update their passports and driving licences to take account of their newfound status. This reflects yet another dramatic change in attitude on sexual matters among Irish people in a year characterised by landmark changes in how people regard those of different sexual orientation to themselves.
Earlier this year, the people of Ireland were hailed as the most liberal in the world after a referendum was carried to legalise same-sex marriage. Despite concerted opposition from the Catholic Church, it was a resounding victory for those who see lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people as fellow citizens of the country, no more and no less.
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