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29th November 2019, 14:23:12 UTC

Amnesty International welcomed the Report on the Review of the 2015 Gender Recognition Act published by Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection today, but stated concern at its failure to propose access to gender recognition for children under 16 years, and for non-binary and intersex individuals.

Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland, said:

“We again commend the Government on passing this important Act in 2015. Our law is one of very few around the world that bases access to legal gender recognition on self-declaration rather than on medical certification. This has made Ireland a leader in promoting and defending trans rights.

“Currently, 16 and 17-year-olds require medical certification and a court order to obtain legal recognition of their gender though. We very much welcome the proposal in today’s report to introduce an arrangement for self-declaration and an administrative process. This approach is more in line with children’s human rights.

“However, we remain concerned that gender recognition may not be accessible to 16 and 17-year-olds who cannot obtain the consent of both their parents. It is proposed that a court process would address cases where one parent does not consent, or it is not possible or safe to obtain parental consent. Also, the proposal for family mediation support is welcome. But this is not enough. Clearer provision should be made in law to respect the right of children to express themselves and take into account their own views regarding what is in their best interests. This is especially important regarding older children, in light of their evolving capacities.”

 “We are also very concerned that today’s report does not propose extending the Act’s provision for children’s gender recognition to under 16s. Those under 16 are denied access to their rights and legal gender identity completely. Groups working with trans children in Ireland have highlighted how denying them recognition exacerbates stigma, bullying, anxiety and depression. We again call on the Government to amend the Act to remove this blanket age restriction. Instead, a case-by-case approach should be applied, in which the child’s views and best interests are taken into account. This is what Ireland is legally obliged to do under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

 “People who identify as neither male nor female (e.g. non-binary persons) and intersex people also need legal recognition in order to be included, accepted and valued. It is disappointing that the report does not propose recognition of their identities by amending the Act, as had been recommended by the Review Group in 2018. We urge the interdepartmental group tasked with compiling an impact assessment report by end-2020 on non-binary people’s legal gender recognition to make human rights compliant proposals. Our gender recognition law must respect and fulfil the rights of everyone who needs it.”