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Trans community has "waited long enough" for gender recognition

Gender recognition legislation is due to be published in 2014, which has led TENI to begin a new campaign to encourage the government to deal with it sooner.

TRANS PEOPLE AND human rights allies are being called on to take part in a campaign to urge the government to speed up bringing in gender recognition legislation.

The call comes from TENI following a further delay in the progress of Gender Recognition legislation. In the latest government legislation programme, the expected publication date for Ireland’s Bill for Gender Recognition has been moved back to 2014. The heads of bill have not yet been approved by Government.

“We are surprised – and deeply disappointed – at the further delay,” said Dr Orlaith O’Sullivan, TENI campaigns and advocacy manager.

This is a matter of basic human rights for people in Ireland. Our country remains in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights, and the international community is keenly aware of the State’s inaction.

In December 2012, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muizneiks wrote to Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton TD to “strongly encourage” her to proceed with legislation.

In 2008, the UN Human Rights Committee said that the State should “recognise the right of transgender persons to a change of gender by permitting the issuance of new birth certificates”, said TENI.

Recognition

TENI Chair Sara Phillips said:

while Government neglects their obligation to legislate, people continue to be marginalised and excluded. The suicide attempt rate among our community is 40 per cent. We have waited long enough for our basic human rights.

TENI is urging trans people who were born in Ireland to request a new birth certificate from the Registrar General. TENI is also counting the years that people in Ireland have been waiting for recognition, and publishing them in on their website.

Dr Lydia Foy, for example, first requested her corrected birth certificate in 1993.

Impact

O’Sullivan told TheJournal.ie that transgender people in Ireland have been waiting very patiently thinking there will be due process with regard to the legislation. The delay is causing issues for some, such as people who have missed a place in college because of not having a new birth certificate, people running into issues trying to obtain welfare, and people finding their identity is questioned over and over again.

One man stood in a post office and was asked ‘whose ID have you stolen?’ because his gender identity did not match the gender on his passport, said O’Sullivan. People also face transphobia due to outing themselves.

Everyone under the EU convention has a right to privacy – trans people and intersex people in Ireland have to out themselves and are denied this right because of gender recognition issues, said O’Sullivan.

“We are not asking for a special right,” said O’Sullivan, as Ireland chose to sign up to the human rights convention.

O’Sullivan said she believes “we are in a very hopeful, positive place in Ireland” and are beginning to have the conversation more around gender and gender identity. “People are mobilising to support themselves,” she added.

Details of TENI’s ACT NOW campaign are at: www.teni.ie/act_now

Read: LGBT rights group to hold ‘kiss-in’ for equality>

Read: Birth certs remain an issue for transgender Irish>

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