Do you need urgent support? Find it here

EVENTS CALENDAR

  ‹September 2017›  
SuMoTuWeThFrSa
272829303112
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
1234567

  • TWITTER FEED

News & Events

18 JUL 2013

GCN.ie - Trans Rights Organisation Express Grave Concerns Over Gender Recognition Bill

The Government today published a draft Heads of a Bill to recognise Gender Recognition, but TENI have expressed strong reservations over three of its key elements.

The full article is available here

 

Nearly six years after Ireland was declared in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights, Minister Joan Burton has finally released a draft Heads of Bill to provide a pathway to legally recognise transgender people.

"We've seen legislative progress today, which is a positive step forward," said TENI Director Broden Giambrone (pictured). "We welcome the publication of the draft Heads of Bill and look forward to working towards inclusive, rights-based legislation for Ireland."

The Government's initial recommendations for legislation were published more than two years ago, on Thursday 14 July 2011. In the interim, two European Commissioners for Human Rights have voiced concerns about the delay in legislation.

"There are three elements of the draft legislation that are cause for grave concern," said Giambrone, "the age barrier, the requirement to have a doctor's supporting statement, and the requirement to be single. We work with families whose hearts will break reading these draft Heads of Bill."

The proposed scheme will only be open to people at least 18 years of age. "This excludes the intersex-affected children who may need to avail of the rights contained within Recognition," continued Giambrone. "In Ireland, a young child has been unable to access pre-school because there was no pathway for their documentation to be corrected. Some trans children are today being home-schooled because they face such oppressive bullying at school - by students and staff.

“This is about the fundamentals of a child’s life: health, play and education,” said Giambrone. “Without Recognition, a child may be excluded from taking part in sports or leisure activities. Many young people miss out on their college places because the CAO system is unable to cope with trans identities. Everyone has a right to education, irrespective of their gender identity."

Those wishing to access recognition of their assumed gender will require a supporting statement by primary treating physician.

"We welcome the omission of the requirement to have a formal diagnosis of a mental illness," said Giambrone. "However, having to have a supporting statement from a physician seems like diagnosis by any other name. The Department for Social Protection has received letters from the world experts in transgender health stating that healthcare professionals should not be involved in the process of legal recognition. We are disappointed that this remains within the draft Heads of Bill - against the recommendations of the HSE.

“This medical requirement seems to exclude intersex-affected people, as the physician needs to confirm that someone is transitioning to an acquired gender. If this is indeed the case and intersex-affected people cannot avail of the rights within Recognition, it’s a missed opportunity.” 

The requirement to be single has been the most controversial of the Bill’s conditions. On 2 July 2013, the International Secretariat of Amnesty International wrote to Minister Burton calling for legislation to be introduced without further delay, urging that it be introduced without requirements relating to marital status.

In a letter to Minister Burton dated 16 November 2012, Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Nils Mui┼żnieks warned against including any requirement to be single, saying "divorce should not be a necessary condition for gender recognition as it can have a disproportionate effect on the right to family life".

"Why should anyone be forced to choose between family and basic human rights?" asked Victoria Mullen, a married transgender woman with children. "I believe that the requirement to divorce is itself unconstitutional as the State fails to meet its own obligations by making such a demand of a citizen. Indeed, divorce may not even be possible in our circumstances as we may be unable to satisfy the courts that there has been an irreconcilable breakdown of our marriages, a key requirement under Irish Law for a divorce."

“What about the constitutional protection for Victoria’s family?” asked Giambrone. "It is vital that the legislation that is introduced is firmly grounded on human rights principles, and cherishes all families equally."

The draft Heads of Bill was published at a press conference to which no trans organisations or representatives were invited. "Frankly, we were shocked that today's launch did not seek to involve or include members of the trans community," said Giambrone.

The Bill will now go to the Committee for Education and Social Protection for review. TENI will publish a forensic analysis of the draft Heads of Bill and will hold a Community Forum within the next month to discuss next steps for advocacy.

“What Minister Burton presented today is a starting point," concluded Giambrone. "We need to ensure that the legislation that the State enacts is inclusive and marriage-friendly. The alternative is that the moment that Dr Lydia Foy’s case is finally resolved, other cases will be taken by families seeking to defend their marriages and to protect the wellbeing of their children.”

Shortcut http://www.teni.ie/gcnie___trans_rights_organisation_express_grave_concerns_over_gender_recognition_bill

Find support in your area