IHREC reiterates its call to further safeguard the rights of Transgender and Intersex people

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) welcomes the Gender Recognition Bill 2014 (2014 Bill) as an important legislative development that needs to be further strengthened to fully safeguard the rights of Transgender and Intersex people. The Commission has set out its concerns in a letter to Joan Burton TD, Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection, recommending changes to the 2014 Bill in relation to the treatment of young people, medical certification and the ‘single status’ requirements. 

Emily Logan, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission said “the Gender Recognition Bill 2014 is a welcome and important legislative development that needs to be further strengthened to fully safeguard the rights of Transgender and Intersex people. In relation to young people there are some remaining shortcomings that need to be addressed to provide for their best interests and to prevent practical difficulties in their daily lives, particularly in schooling and sports. The 2014 Bill does not provide for the recognition of the preferred gender of a person under 16 and does not allow those young people from 16-18 years to make an application for recognition in their preferred gender themselves. The Commission recommends young people aged 16 and over should be allowed to make an application under the legislation themselves, and that the legislation should enable applications to be made on behalf of young people under the age of 16 years with all of the relevant safeguards applying.”

 

Ms Logan continued:“The Commission welcomes the removal from the legislation of the specific requirement for a ‘medical evaluation’ by a psychiatrist or endocrinologist as a precondition to applying for recognition in a person’s preferred gender. We remain concerned that a medical practitioner is required to provide a certificate before a person can register in their preferred gender.  This makes it unclear whether gender identity is a matter of medical diagnosis or self-identification and may raise questions relating to interference with the right to private life.  A person applying for a gender recognition certificate should not be required to produce supporting evidence specifically from a medical professional. Failure to produce such evidence should not conclusively preclude a person from recognition, particularly if other satisfactory supporting evidence is available.”

The Commission is concerned about the provision in the 2014 Bill that requires a person who applies for a gender recognition certificate to provide a statutory declaration that they are not married or in a civil partnership. Ms Logan said “The Commission considers that the imposition of the single status requirement is neither necessary nor proportionate and should be reconsidered as it may ultimately create an insurmountable bar to certain individuals applying for a gender recognition certificate.”

 

ENDS/

 

 For further information please contact Fidelma Joyce, IHREC, Mob: 087 783 4939

 

Notes to Editor

 

  • The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is an independent body, established in law on 1st November 2014.
  • The Chief Commissioner, Emily Logan was appointed through open competition; all fourteen members of the Commission were appointed through an independent selection panel.
  • The Chief Commissioner and all fourteen members of the Commission were appointed by President Michael D. Higgins on 31st October 2014 and account directly to the Oireachtas for their statutory functions.
  • Under Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014 (2014 Act), the IHREC has a statutory remit to protect and promote human rights and equality in the State, to promote a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding, and to promote understanding and awareness of the importance of human rights and equality.
  • The 2014 Act was drafted and enacted with the stated intention of enabling the Commission to take account of new and emerging issues that are of relevance to human rights and equality. This is reflected in the definition of human rights in the 2014 Act which provides that the Commission’s mandate includes ‘the rights, liberties and freedoms that may reasonably be inferred as being inherent in persons as human beings, and necessary to enable each person to live with dignity and participate in the economic, social or cultural life in the State’.
  • Section  10(2)(c) of the 2014 Act enables the Commission, either at its own volition or on being so requested by a Minister of Government to examine any legislative proposal and reports its views on any implications for human rights and equality.
  • The concerns set-out above a reiteration of concerns highlighted by the Former Irish Human Rights Commission in its Submission on the General Scheme of the Gender Recognition Bill 2013
  • Possible practical difficulties for young people in school and sports are set out in the Former Equality Authority Submission on the General Scheme of the Gender Recognition Bill 2013

 

 

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