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Ireland criticised over legislation and education on LGBT issues

A major report by the Council of Europe both praises and criticises Ireland on various discrimination and gender issues.

James Boyle and Sean Maher take part in the 'march for marriage' to the Department of Justice in Dublin in 2010. The protest criticised the Civil Partnership Bill, saying it makes people into second class citizens.
James Boyle and Sean Maher take part in the 'march for marriage' to the Department of Justice in Dublin in 2010. The protest criticised the Civil Partnership Bill, saying it makes people into second class citizens.
Image: Leon Farrell Photocall Ireland.

A MAJOR REPORT published by the Council of Europe has criticised Ireland for failing to recognise transgender people.

The report – entitled Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Europe -  issued on behalf of the council’s human rights body is the largest study ever taken in Europe and has taken two years to complete.

The report identifies that Ireland is one of the last remaining countries in Europe that has not changed its law to recognise transgender people. The government admitted a year ago that it is violating the European Convention on Human Rights when it withdrew an appeal with relation to Dr. Lydia Foy.

It remarks that:

In Ireland, it is remarkable that while it is impossible to receive legal gender recognition, there is a relatively simple procedure for a name change.

Education

The report identifies that throughout Europe, there seems to be little teaching material of good quality on LGBT issues, and identifies Ireland as one of the countries where schools “do not provide any information about homosexuality or if so only biased, incorrect information not reflecting the WHO de-classification of homosexuality”. However it does note that there has been some effort to address the problem of homophobic bullying in Irish schools

Ireland is praised for enacting non-discrimination legislation which includes sexual orientation among the prohibited grounds of discrimination. Ireland also has an equality body to receive complaints on the grounds of sexual orientation and also deems the incitement of hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation to be a criminal offence.

Ireland is praised for including in its health strategy a focus on lesbian and bisexual women in all its campaigns on cancer and STIs. Staff are required to have specialist knowledge of lesbian and bisexual women’s health problems and a non-judgmental attitude to their sexual orientation.

The report also notes that Ireland has introduced a form of registered partnership, but also identifies that Ireland is one of 35 member states which allows no access to adoption by same-sex couples.

Conclusions

The Council of Europe says that serious flaws as well as positive developments have been identified in the areas of discrimination and gender identity in the 47 member states. It also identifies that:

LGBT persons continue to be subjected to homophobia and transphobia in their everyday lives. Further efforts by member states are needed to pursue legislative reforms and social change to enable LGBT persons to fully enjoy universally recognised human rights.

Read: UN backs gay rights for the first time ever>

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