Saturday 25 January 2020

Couples will be 'forced to split' after sex change

The Heads of the Bill requires that legal gender recognition applicants must be single
The Heads of the Bill requires that legal gender recognition applicants must be single

Emma Jane Hade

Campaigners have said the fact the transgender people must be single to get legal gender recognition leads to "forced divorce".

The Equality Authority has raised concerns after carrying out a detailed analysis of the imminent Gender Recognition Bill, which serves as the framework for legislation due to be introduced later this year.

The Heads of the Bill requires that legal gender recognition applicants must be single.

Betty Purcell, the acting chair of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, said that the concept of "forced divorce" raises serious human rights concerns as well as being "legally unnecessary".

"The Irish Bill essentially asks for a transgender person in a happy marriage to misrepresent that marriage and its validity in official documents in order to acquire their correct gender," Ms Purcell said.

"Many transgender people have been supported on their journey by their spouse. The Bill requires that at the conclusion of that journey, the supportive spouse is then to be presented as the only impediment remaining to the proper gender recognition of the other.

"This is harsh, unfair and of serious concern," she added.

Ms Purcell also said that she believes this will lead to "significant hardship on families where a spouse, or civil partner, wishes to gain legal recognition of a preferred gender".

These comments are coming almost seven years after Ireland was found to be in breach of commitments under the European Convention on Human Rights in the case of Lydia Foy, who eventually won a landmark case against the State who failed to provide "meaningful recognition" of her female identity.

The group also highlighted other issues that are prevalent for those who identify as transgender, including difficulty in requiring work, which can ultimately lead to poverty.

"People who identify as, or are imputed as, transgender and who are inter-sex typically experience high levels of discrimination.

"Additionally, research has highlighted a high suicide rate and high levels of harassment of and violence towards transgender people in public places," Ms Purcell added.

"The progression of this bill is vital to addressing many of these issue and we look forward to a speedy endorsement by the Oireachtas to enable trans people in Ireland to assert their identity, respectfully and legally."

Irish Independent

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