Senator Katherine Zappone
This week, the capital will celebrate the annual Dublin LGBTQ Pride Festival, a celebration of pride in one’s human identity that will culminate in a parade through the city. This time, the parade will make its way past the gates of Leinster House, having always passed City Hall on previous occasions. Passing Leinster House is a big deal for members of the community and all Senators are welcome to join us. Last year, the parade was attended by more than 25,000 people and watched by more than 100,000 people, making it second only in size to the St. Patrick’s Day parade.
I have a couple of questions to the Leader in this regard. Transgender people and their families will take part in this week’s celebrations, yet their identities are still not legally recognised by the State. Dr. Lydia Foy started her legal case to have her gender recognised 15 years ago and is still waiting for recognition. Ten years ago, the European Court of Human Rights made clear in a case against Britain that transgender people have a legal right to be recognised and it is nearly five years since the High Court held that Lydia Foy’s rights under the European Convention on Human Rights had been violated. The Government announced some months ago that it will pay compensation to Dr. Foy. This will be the first compensation claim to be made under the European Convention of Human Rights Act passed in 2003. Will the Leader investigate whether progress has been made in advancing this claim?
The gender recognition advisory group, which was established more than one year ago to advise the Government on legislating for gender recognition, produced recommendations almost a year ago. We are still waiting for the heads of a Bill to be produced on foot of these recommendations, which include a particularly contestable recommendation that refers to the forcing of married transgender people to divorce before they can have their legal gender recognised. I met two such couples recently who want to stay together as families. Why should a loving couple be forced to divorce? Does a State, which was constitutionally opposed to divorce until 1996, want to legislate for forced divorce for a minority group which experiences ongoing discrimination in many other ways? I ask the Leader to request that the Minister for Social Protection come before the House for a debate on the progress of gender recognition legislation.