Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Thursday, 24 October 2013
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Social Protection
General Scheme of Gender Recognition Bill 2013: Discussion (Resumed)
Mr. Brian Merriman:
Briefly, no message should go out from anything we say to the effect that there is an absence of protection of rights for transgender people under the equality legislation. We already have vindicated rights under the Equal Status Act and the Employment Equality Act and will continue to so do.
However, there is a significant dividend to be got from getting recognition. I have absolutely no objection whatsoever to transgender becoming a distinctive ground. There is a great value in giving people a name in law. This could be provided for in the Irish human rights and equality commission legislation which includes bringing in amendments to employment equality, equal status and human rights legislation together. When trying to find an example of how the marriage element might work in practice, I did not find much in the law. However, I did find provision for it in the Roman Catholic Church. It is a requirement for a Roman Catholic priest to be celibate. If an Anglican married priest decides to convert to Catholicism, his marriage is not dissolved, however. If it can be accommodated there, I am sure we will find a way to accommodate it in this case.
There is good practice in third level education. Trinity College Dublin and Waterford Institute of Technology, for example, have done excellent work in this area. They are looking to deal with back-dating records so as to prevent them from being used inappropriately. We will work with first and second level on this issue.