Gender Recognition Bill ‘paternalistic’ and ‘Irish solution to an Irish problem ’

Minister says she is ‘proud’ to bring in Bill that progresses rights of transgender people

The Gender Recognition Bill has been described as “a form of Irish solution to an Irish problem”, with the State adopting a “paternalistic approach”.

Fianna Fáil social protection spokesman Willie O’Dea, while welcoming the legislation as a step forward, said: “We certainly cannot state that it is based on international best practice.”

He said: “We have deliberately placed ourselves behind some of the legislative advances that have been made in light of the experience elsewhere in the world.”

The legislation formally recognises the identity of people who are transgender, those who feel that the gender they were born with or assigned, does not fit them.


Minister of State Kevin Humphreys introduced the Bill in the Dáil, following its passage through the Seanad. He said he was proud to bring in legislation which would progress the civil rights of transgender people.

Unstinting efforts

Mr Humphreys paid tribute to Dr

Lydia Foy

, whose long legal battle paved the way for the legislation. Her “unstinting efforts over very many years have played a crucial part in bringing us to this point”.

He said the “fundamental concept” of the Bill was that with a gender recognition certificate a person’s “preferred gender will be formally and legally recognised for all purposes”.

The Minister added: “For many transgender people their birth certificate is the last remaining personal document that does not show their preferred gender. This legislation allows them to obtain a birth certificate showing their preferred gender.”

While an application for a certificate would require a supporting statement by their primary treating medical practitioner that the person has transitioned or is transitioning to the preferred gender, details of care would not be required, nor would the applicant have to confirm they were living for a specified time as transgender.

“This is a much more progressive, less onerous and less invasive approach than is the case in many other countries, both in the EU and elsewhere, and I hope it will be recognised as such.”

But Mr O’Dea said people’s rights would “depend on the individual whim of their family doctor” when gender recognition should be “a matter of self-determination by the individual concerned”.

He accused the Government of insisting on adopting a “paternalistic approach” and said the Bill was a form of “Irish solution to an Irish problem”.

Sinn Féin spokesman Aengus Ó Snodaigh said that while he might disagree with the Minister about whether this was the required legislation “it is nonetheless a significant step”.

The Bill goes to committee stage next week.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times