State to let transsexuals alter gender in passports

Via The Irish Times and USI LGBT

Transsexuals will be able to have their gender changed in new Irish passports in what will be the first statutory recognition of transgender rights in Irish legislation.

However, the change comes as the State contests a landmark case in which a transsexual is trying to have her birth certificate changed from male to female.

Dr Lydia Foy, a dentist from Kildare in her 50s, was born a male, married and fathered two children before undergoing gender realignment surgery almost 15 years ago. Dr Foy, whose marriage ended in the 1990s, changed her name by deed poll in 1993.

The case will raise significant issues about the legal recognition and rights of Irish transsexuals. It is due to be heard in the High Court in April next year.

Dr Foy is expected to argue that refusal of the State to change her birth certificate is in breach of her rights as recognised under the European Convention on Human Rights.

The High Court ruled against her in 2002. However, just two days after the judgment, the European Court of Human Rights found in favour of British transsexual Christine Goodwin who claimed the UK’s refusal to allow her to amend her birth certificate violated rights guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights.

Dr Foy’s renewed legal attempt to overturn the State’s refusal to change her birth certificate follows Ireland’s ratification of the convention and other significant legal developments in this area.

Solicitor Michael Farrell of the Free Legal Advice Centres – which supports Dr Foy’s High Court application – yesterday said he welcomed the State’s decision to provide greater recognition of transsexuals in the form of new passports. However, he said much more needed to be done to provide proper recognition of transgender citizens.

“We are very out of line with the rest of Europe on this issue,” he said.

The State’s watchdog on human rights, the Irish Human Rights Commission, has also welcomed plans to provide for transgender passports.

The Passports Bill allows an applicant who has undergone or who is undergoing treatment to change their sexual characteristics, to change the name and gender entered in their passport.

In a statement, the human rights commission said: “This section of the Bill addresses important questions relating to the right to respect for private and family life, issues which have recently been considered in detail by the European Court of Human Rights.”

Excellent news for Transexuals in Ireland, but still a long way to go. best of luck to Lydia Foy in Europe!

Author: Stephen

Cork born and bred, proud European and Irishman. Involved in many organisations and politics. Also writes for and UCC Express.

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