Dáil debates

Friday, 9 May 2014

Report on the General Scheme of the Gender Recognition Bill 2013: Motion


1:35 pm

Photo of Joanna TuffyJoanna Tuffy (Dublin Mid West, Labour) | Oireachtas source

I thank everyone who contributed. I also thank the members of TENI, whom I did not realise were present. I thank them for their contributions throughout the process.

The Minister and her officials have a difficult task ahead in drafting the legislation because it reflects a complex area. Considering that the issue of age has arisen frequently during the debate, I speak personally rather than on behalf of the joint committee in saying the welfare of the child must be paramount and underpin the legislation. The concept is complex and always particular to the child concerned. It is not a matter in respect of which we can provide a simple answer. It is difficult to come up with the legislation, but the important principle relates to the paramountcy of the welfare of the child. Those under 18 years are children.

My second point is on the issue of marriage. Our recommendation is obviously nuanced because we take into account the fact that there are two legal opinions. We recognise in our recommendation that it is unfair on people who are married and have acquired a new gender not to include them in the legislation. On the other hand, we have a Constitution to adhere to. In general, it is very good, but it is not always perfect. We should not have a reference to marriage in the Constitution. The reality is that the concept of the family is much broader than one based on marriage. Unfortunately, the Constitution posits families based on marriage as the primary type of family. That is wrong. However, the provision is in place and it presents a difficulty. As legislators, our duty is to pass laws that are constitutional. As I stated, there are two legal opinions. The task of the Minister is to pass what she believes to be the law that is most constitutional, or the one least likely to fail the test of constitutionality. I wish her well in that task. I again thank everybody who contributed to the debate.


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