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Micheál Martin has 'no time' for a UK-style 'toxic' discussion on trans issues

An Taoiseach said he will be in attendance at the Dublin Pride march this weekend.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin ahead of Pride last year.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin ahead of Pride last year.

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has said he has “no time” for a “toxic discussion” surrounding trans people, adding that “acceptance is key”.

Martin made the comments to LGBT+ group NXF ahead of Dublin Pride weekend and specifically mentioned debates in the UK which he described as “particularly negative”. 

Ireland passed the Gender Recognition Act in 2015 which has provided people the legal right to gender recognition based on self-declaration for the past seven years.

The UK had planned to introduce similar laws to legislate for gender recognition based on self-declaration but this was recently shelved by Boris Johnson’s government amid an increasingly hostile debate

Speaking today, An Taoiseach said he was aware of the “toxic” debate in the UK and added that it should be avoided here.  

“I’d be very concerned about that and and I’ve watched it in the UK and we certainly don’t need that kind of debate in Ireland. We don’t need to have that kind of debate in Ireland,” he said. 

First of all, acceptance is the key for trans persons and I think we need a debate that creates a space for understanding and from an informed perspective, and sometimes we don’t get that in a highly charged forum. 

“It’s very superficial I sense at times and it’s sort of plucking one aspect of it or one manifestation of it and turning it into a big sort of toxic discussion, which I have no time for and we don’t need that.”

Source: National LGBT Federation NXF/YouTube

Martin went on to argue that the manner in which a debate is conducted is important because trans people “face a very difficult journey from the earliest age”, adding that “we should fully accept and acknowledge their identity in the first instance”.

The context of the question from Adam Long of NXF came following the controversy over three days of debate about trans issues on the Liveline programme which led to the decision by Dublin Pride to end it’s partnership with RTÉ. 

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Martin said he had not heard the debates which caused controversy but that “some types of programmes or some types of forum are not conducive to an informed debate”.

He added “freedom of speech is very important in society” but that this must be balanced with “ensuring that anything that gets said isn’t undermining a person and that person’s identity”.

Martin said that he will be in attendance at the Dublin Pride march this weekend which he expects to be “a joyous occasion”.

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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