As the Irish Government published the first draft of the Gender Recognition Bill on Friday, Amnesty International has spoken out about the bill, claiming it has “short-changed” the trans people of Ireland.
The bill – first announced in June of this year – has attempted to bring Ireland’s laws up to speed with other countries in recognition of the transgender community.
“This is a progressive Bill which I have championed and which has been needed for a long time,” said Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton. “It is my intention to ensure the enactment of the Bill early in 2015 so that members of the transgender community are able to avail of the opportunity to have their preferred gender formally recognised as soon as possible.”
The bill will allow trans people to be recognised by the State in their preferred gender. It also allows people aged 16 and 17 to apply for gender recognition.
However, the bill has come under attack from Amnesty International and Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI).
While the bill allows for 16 and 17 year-olds to obtain gender recognition, they require a court order and parental consent to do so, which campaigners warn could cause harm. Also, the bill excluding those under the age of 16 means leaving them open to discrimination.
Denis Krivosheev of Amnesty International told PinkNews:
“[…] This bill will require substantial changes if it is to tackle the serious issue of discrimination against transgender people. […] Rather than making it as easy as possible for all transgender people to obtain legal recognition of their identity, there are several groups that will be short-changed by the bill – in particular those who are married or in civil partnerships, minors, and those who do not wish to undergo medical treatment, […] The bill completely overlooks the needs of those who may wish to remain married, or who are going through divorce proceedings, while obtaining legal recognition of their gender. This is a violation of their human rights.
Additionally, a medical practitioner must carry out a medical examination of those who wish to apply for gender recognition. The bill states:
“(I) has transitioned or is transitioning to his or her preferred gender, and (II) the medical practitioner is satisfied that the applicant fully understands the consequences of his or her decision to live permanently in his or her preferred gender.”
Worryingly, those who are happily married, and wish to remain so, must divorce if their gender is to be legally recognised. This is due to Ireland’s lack of recognition of same-sex marriage, as of yet. The marriage referendum set for May is promising, however, it is not guaranteed to pass – leaving these families in limbo.
Krivosheev states that “Ireland’s Gender Recognition Bill is a welcome piece of legislation, but it requires several amendments to fulfill its potential as a truly progressive move by the authorities.”
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