THE EQUALITY AUTHORITY has said that it is working with a woman who is seeking maternity benefit after becoming a mother via a surrogate.
The case was outlined in the Authority’s annual report for 2011, which was published this week.
The woman could no longer support a pregnancy due to a serious cancer, and she and her husband availed of a surrogacy service. The case was not successful before the Equality Tribunal as there is no legislation with recognises the needs of those who conceive via surrogacy.
The Equality Authority has said that it has received other complaints with regard to supports for surrogate parents, and is advocating that legislation in this matter should be introduced.
The ‘ground-breaking’ case of Louise Hannon is also highlighted in the report. Ms Hannon, a transgender woman, was found to have been discriminated against at work and was awarded €35,000 by the Equality Tribunal. She waived her right to anonymity in order to publicise the case, and wrote earlier this year that the struggle for legal gender recognition continues.
The annual report for 2011 reveals that the Authority has seen a decrease in the overall queries received compared to 2010, when the group said it experienced a “huge surge” in equality-related queries.
Increase in the number of casefiles by 40 while the number of applications for representation by the Equality Authority increased from 15 to 23.
The most significant event as identified by the chairperson Angela Kerins was the olan announced by the government in September 2011 to merge the Equality Authority and the Irish Human Rights Commission.
The merger is now underway, but it has been met with criticism in the past. The Equality and Rights Alliance – a coalition of over 170 organisations – has expressed concern about the lack of commitment to additional staffing and resources.
Family leave accounted for 56 per cent of enquiries, while gender, disability and age were the key areas of enquiry under the Equal Status Acts.