Written answers

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Department of Social Protection

EU Legislation

5:00 pm

Photo of Jack WallJack Wall (Kildare South, Labour)
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Question 69: To ask the Minister for Social Protection if she will raise the matter of the transgender community with her fellow Ministers in the EU; if there is any EU legislation that Ireland has not addressed in regard to this very important matter; if the committee set up to deal with the Supreme Court decision issued any information that it needed to reflect or investigate such legislation within the EU given the grave concern that the community has with the ongoing problems of completing the courts directive; if all other EU countries have now completed the legality of transgender communities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8069/11]

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Minister, Department of Social Protection; Dublin West, Labour)
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The High Court has ruled that the State is in breach of its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights in its failure to provide for the legal recognition of the acquired gender of transgendered persons. The State does, however, provide for some level of recognition as in the provision of passports, driving licences and in many official dealings with transgendered persons, including social welfare, healthcare and revenue matters.

Following the High Court decision the Government established the Gender Recognition Advisory Group in 2010 with the following terms of reference:-

"To advise the Minister for Social Protection on the legislation required to provide for legal recognition of the acquired gender of transsexuals. In particular, to propose heads of a bill to provide for:-

o The establishment of a process for legal recognition of the acquired gender of persons suffering from Gender Identity Disorder, who have made the transition from one gender to another.

o The establishment of a gender recognition register

o The granting of entitlement to marry in the legally recognised reassigned gender, and

o Any other provisions as may be deemed necessary consequent to the main provisions of the Bill.

The Group is made up of representatives of various Departments and Offices of State. The group has met on a number of occasions and has engaged in extensive consultation with a range of representative organisations and individuals with knowledge and expertise in the area, both in Ireland and abroad. Further consultation, research and discussion is required on the issues arising. I understand that the group hopes to report within a matter of weeks.

As far as the EU dimension is concerned, the State has not been found to have been in breach of any EU legislation on transgender recognition. I am not aware of any information issued or investigated by the Gender Recognition Group as regards EU legislation, as I am not yet in receipt of the Group's report. I am aware that the European Parliament adopted a resolution on 17 June 2010 on assessment of the results of the 2006-2010 Roadmap for Equality between women and men, and forward-looking recommendations. The resolution contains a comprehensive set of recommendations covering equality issues, including the position of transgendered persons. The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has taken an active role in the area of gender equality and has published two studies, one in 2008 containing a legal analysis of issues, and an update on the 2008 position in 2010. In the 2008 report, the FRA identified Ireland, Luxembourg, Latvia and Malta as not having fully complied with the requirements for legal recognition of transgendered persons. The report states that legal recognition was generally available in the other Member States, although the approach varies from state to state. The 2010 report noted the decision of the High Court in Ireland and stated that proposals for new legislation are now expected. In light of the active roles of the European Parliament and the FRA in the area of transgender equality, I do not consider it necessary to raise the matter with fellow Ministers in the EU at this time.

The Programme for Government contains a commitment to provide for the legal recognition of transgender persons. The report of the Gender Recognition Advisory Group will make recommendations as to the legislation required to provide for such recognition and it is my intention that legislation will be proposed as soon as practicable, following receipt of the report.

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