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Gender Recognition Bill is "vital" says Equality Authority

The Equality Authority says it is worried about provision for married people who undergo gender realignment.

Image: Rainbow Flag via Shutterstock

THE GENDER RECOGNITION Bill is “vital” in addressing many of the problems facing transgender people.

That is the observation of the Equality Authority, who today launched their report on the bill. Coming seven years after it was ruled that Ireland was in breach of its commitments under the European Convention on Human
Rights in the case of Lydia Foy, the bill contains a number of provisions for trans people.

Betty Purcell, Acting Chair of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (designate) who launched the report said that without legislation, trans people face many obstacles.

“People who identify as, or are imputed as, transgender and who are intersex typically experience high levels of discrimination. Additionally, research has highlighted a high suicide rate and high levels of harassment of and violence towards transgender people in public places. Particular difficulties also arise in accessing employment, healthcare and leisure facilities.

“Too many transgender people live in poverty due to increased difficulties in accessing the labour market. The progression of this Bill is vital to addressing many of these issues and we look forward to a speedy endorsement by the Oireachtas to enable trans people in Ireland to assert their identity, respectfully and legally.”

A sticking point in the bill, the authority says, is a requirement for transgender people who are married to convert to a civil union.

“In its 2010 submission to the Gender Recognition Advisory Group, the Authority noted that such an approach was not in fact legally necessary,” they say.

“As such, the concern that gender recognition would convert a heterosexual marriage into a marriage between parties of the same sex is not legally founded.

Many transgender people have been supported on their journey by their spouse. The Bill requires that at the conclusion of that journey, the supportive spouse is then to be presented as the only impediment remaining to the proper gender recognition of the other. This is harsh, unfair and of serious concern.

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