Irish court makes landmark ruling in trans case

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A ruling by Ireland’s highest court may lead to a change in the law with regards to the rights of trans people to have a new birth certificate issued.

At the High Court in Dublin Mr Justice Liam McKechnie ruled that the failure of the Irish government to provide proper recognition of the female identity of Dr Lydia Foy is a violation of the European Convention of Human Rights.

He said that the system of birth registration in Ireland is incompatible with the convention as it prevents Dr Foy’s registration as female at birth.

The government will now have to outline how it intends to comply with Article 8 of the convention, respect for private life.

The test case concerned Dr Lydia Foy, a dentist from Athy, Co. Kildare.

Dr Foy changed her name to Lydia in 1993 and has previously been issued with an Irish passport and driving licence in which she is identified as female.

She also obtained a Gender Recognition Certificate in the UK, but the High Court in Dublin questioned the relevance of the document in the Republic of Ireland.

When obtaining the certificate, Dr Foy stated that she was unmarried, despite the fact that she married in 1977 and fathered two daughters.

In 2002, Dr Foy was refused a direction by the courts to the Registrar of Births to describe her as female on her birth certificate.

Just days after that High Court decision the European Court of Human Rights ruled on a landmark case.

The UK’s refusal to give transgender people new birth certificates breached their rights to marry and to respect for privacy under the Convention, the European court ruled.

At that time the High Court in Dublin urged the Irish government to take action, but nothing has been done in the intervening five years, so Dr Foy has returned to court.

In his 70-page judgment, released on Friday, Mr Justice McKechnie criticised the government for not bring forward legislation when the case arose in 2002.

In April counsel for Mrs Foy argued that ruling in Dr Foy’s favour could “enormous uncertainty” and put in a unique position, as the Irish state only recognises a marriage between people of the opposite sex.

Dr Foy will now be able to claim compensation.