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Fine Gael seeking law change to let under-16s legally change gender

New rules for blood donations by gay men also on the agenda

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Calls for change: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is a member of Fine Gael’s LGBT committee. Photo: Photocall Ireland/PA

Calls for change: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is a member of Fine Gael’s LGBT committee. Photo: Photocall Ireland/PA

Calls for change: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is a member of Fine Gael’s LGBT committee. Photo: Photocall Ireland/PA

Children under the age of 16 would be able to legally change their gender under plans being discussed by Fine Gael.

A Fine Gael policy paper drafted for the government formation talks recommends changing laws to allow all children change their gender.

Under current legislation in Ireland, only those over the age of 18 can legally do so.

Children aged 16 and 17 can apply to the courts to have their gender changed if they have parental consent and medical approval.

However, in the report drafted by Fine Gael's LGBT committee, it is recommended that these children should be free to legally self-declare their own gender.

The committee, which includes Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as a member, also says laws need to be changed to allow all children under 16 change their gender with parental approval.

It says laws should be changed to "permit children aged under 16 years of age to secure legal recognition of gender by removing the ­criterion relating to minimum age".

The 15-page report also recommends that the Gender Recognition Act 2015 be changed to "allow for the recognition of a gender other than male or female in law".

It says that current legislation allows changes of gender "only from female to male and from male to female".

"Where a person declares in the female gender, the sex of that person will be listed as female and where a person declares as male gender, the sex will be listed as male," it adds.

The committee notes that a number of countries, including Germany, Denmark and Canada, allow people to declare a "third gender" on official documentation.

It recommends that the next government should allow people who do not consider themselves either male or female to be permitted to mark X on their passports.

This would mean Irish passports would have three gender categories - male, female and X.

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The policy paper also calls for changes to the Road Traffic Act to allow for the introduction of rainbow-coloured pedestrian crossings.

The legislation at present allows only black and white markings and the Dáil would have to pass an amendment to allow rainbow-coloured crossings similar to those in Brussels, San Francisco and Sydney.

The report says Dublin City Council officials have welcomed the idea of commemorating the passing of the Marriage Equality Act with a rainbow crossing - but are prohibited from doing so by legislation.

The committee also calls for an easing of restrictions on gay men who wish to donate blood.

Gay men who wish to give blood must not engage in sexual activity for 12 months before donating under laws introduced in 2016.

Prior to this, they were banned from donating blood.

The Fine Gael LGBT committee wants the deferral period of sexual activity reduced to three months as in Britain and Northern Ireland.

It also called for controversial conversion therapies to be banned in Ireland because they can be "extremely damaging to a person's mental health and, in certain circumstances, physical wellbeing".

It also wants major legislative reforms to address the "alarming" lack of LGBT sex education in schools.

The report also says the Government's Anti-Bullying Plan should be updated to recognise gender identity bullying.

It also called for the criminal records for homosexual men convicted of historical offences to be expunged.

Irish Independent


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