Transgender people born outside of Ireland will have their status recognised by the State but the same right is not being extended at present to Irish nationals, the Government has said.
In a statement of policy on the rights of transgender people submitted to the Council of Europe, the Government has set out its policy on allowing transgender people to marry a person of the opposite sex.
It says work is “in progress” on this issue, adding “gender reassignment is not yet recognised in Ireland”.
“However, the General Registrar Office in Ireland will accept a birth certificate amended by another State where gender reassignment is recognised in support of notification of intention to marry or to enter into a civil partnership, from a person born outside of Ireland.”
The statement, sent by the Government in January, is in response to a questionnaire to all 47 Council member states.
The Council of Europe is a separate organisation to the EU. Its associate bodies include the European Court of Human Rights, which overseas compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights.
Last month it emerged that Lydia Foy, the transgender woman who won a landmark High Court case for gender recognition in 2007, had issued new proceedings against the State as she remains unable to get a birth certificate indicating she is a woman.
The High Court ruled in October 2007 that Irish law was in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights for refusing to recognise the acquired gender of transgender people. The State moved to appeal to the Supreme Court but withdrew this in June 2010.
Since then successive governments have promised to introduce legislation to allow transgender people to get new birth certificates. While transgender people can have passports and driving licences re-issued in their new gender, they still cannot get new birth certificates.
Michael Farrell, the Free Legal Advice Centres solicitor who is acting for Ms Foy, said the statement that work was "in progress" to recognise transgender people's gender was "welcome".
“But it highlights how out of touch our law is compared with the rest of Europe and other countries. We are already in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights in Lydia Foy’s case. The law needs to be changed urgently or we may have a situation where European or American transgender persons can marry or have a civil partnership in this State but ‘no Irish need apply’.”
Ms Foy, a former dentist who had gender reassignment surgery in England in 1992, told The Irish Times in February she had lost a lot including her career as a result of her battle to have her gender recognised. "But I see everything flows from your identity. Being accepted for who I am is the most important thing. I would like to see this wrong put right as quickly and with as much dignity as possible."