LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

Historic day for Ireland’s trans community

Trans people living in Ireland, their families and allies are celebrating as the long-awaited Gender Recognition Bill passed through the Irish parliament yesterday (Wednesday, 15 July 2015).

It is due to be signed into law by President Michael D. Higgins in the coming days.

This means that, for the first time, trans people in Ireland can be legally recognised in their true gender. ILGA-Europe congratulate the Irish trans community, activists, NGO’s and legislators who have worked tirelessly to make this Act a reality.

Under the new legislation, trans people over the age of 18 will be able to self-declare their gender. In a change from earlier drafts of the bill, no medical diagnosis is needed; only a statutory declaration will be required. This move towards a self-determination model is very encouraging. However, the Irish government’s plan to extend legal gender recognition to married trans people will have to wait until after a legal challenge contesting the result of the country’s recent marriage equality referendum is decided.

Evelyne Paradis, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe said “This is a great moment for trans people living in Ireland. From having virtually no points in the Legal Gender Recognition section of our Rainbow Map at the start of 2015, Ireland has taken a huge leap forward. Hopefully the legal change introduced by countries such as Denmark, Malta and Ireland can inspire their European neighbours.”

Several senators used the opportunity of the final debate to draw attention to the current lack of legal provision for those under the age of 16. Independent senator Jillian van Turnhout called it a joyous day for trans adults but likened the measures to ‘slamming the door’ in the faces of trans children in Ireland.

The passage of this historic law comes after decades of campaigning, prompted by Dr Lydia Foy’s long-running legal battle for a birth certificate in her female gender. The Irish state was under an obligation to legislate for legal gender recognition ever since Ireland was found to be in breach of its obligations under the European Convention of Human Rights in 2007.