Monday, 18 February 2008

Irish Court Judgment on Rights of Transgendered

On 14 February 2008, the Irish High Court made an order declaring that sections of the Civil Registration Act, 2004 were incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights because they do not make any provision for recognising the new gender identity of transgendered persons. The ruling was in the case of transgendered woman Lydia Foy, who began her legal battle for gender recognition and a new passport in her female identity in 1997.
This is the first declaration of incompatibility with the European Convention on Human Rights to be made by an Irish court since the Convention was made part of Irish law in 2003. The Court had indicated its intention of making the declaration in October 2007 but the written judgment has only recently become available and the formal declaration was made on 14th February.
The High Court judge, Mr Justice McKechnie, was very critical of the failure of the Irish Government to take any steps to recognise the position of transgendered persons following the Goodwin decision in the European Court of Human Rights in 2002 and following a warning by Judge McKechnie himself in an earlier ruling in the Lydia Foy case, also in 2002. He said that Ireland had become very isolated among Council of Europe member states on this issue.
A stay has been put on the implementation of the judgment for two months while the Government decides whether to appeal the decision. If there is no appeal, the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) will be required to report the court's decision to the Oireachtas (parliament) within 21 days.
Thanks to Michael Farrell for this.

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