Irish government publishes draft gender recognition law

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The Irish government has finally published a long-awaited bill which will recognise the gender of trans people.

At present, Irish law has no process for recognising that transgender people do not identify as their birth gender.

The bill, which was first announced in June, will bring Irish law in line with that of other countries, by legally recognising the gender of trans people in all dealings with the State, public bodies, and civil and commercial society.

A draft law was published today – in accordance with a pledge to do so “by the end of the year” after the government settled a court case with trans woman Dr Lydia Foy.

However, activists have reacted with dismay to some of the proposals, which they say impose a number of unrealistic conditions.

Firstly, the bill forces married transgender people to divorce in order to gain gender recognition, in accordance with the country’s ban on same-sex marriage.

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Additionally, while the bill allows for 16 and 17-year-olds to obtain legal gender recognition, they require a court order and parental consent to do so, which campaigners warn could cause further harm.

Sara R Phillips of Transgender Equality Network Ireland said: “We are very disappointed that this Bill does not go further in protecting the rights of trans people in this country.

“This is a moment we should be celebrating as we are one step closer to legal recognition.

“However, many members of our community are still excluded in this legislation. We remain hopeful that the Government will work closely with the trans community to improve this legislation before it becomes law.

“There is still time to do the right thing.

“Gender recognition legislation has the capacity to greatly improve the lives of trans people, and to ensure that trans people are treated with dignity and respect as they live their day to day lives.

“This is, and always has been, a human rights issue. Trans people deserve the respect of being recognised and protected for who they are.

“TENI will continue at this stage to advocate for the introduction of inclusive, rights-based legislation that will ensure all members of the trans community can avail of their human rights.

“We call on the Government to engage with the trans community and TENI to ensure this legislation reflects the lived realities of trans people in Ireland.”

The bill is set to be introduced in the Irish Parliament early next year.

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