Seminar 5th Feb 2015 (Trans)Gender Recognition in Germany: The Role of the German Courts

UCD SSLThe Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC) and UCD Human Rights Network and UCD Sutherland School of Law invites you to a keynote address from Prof. Dr. Johanna Schmidt-Räntsch, Judge of the German Supreme Court, on

“(Trans)Gender Recognition in Germany: The Role of the German Courts”

Date: Thursday, 05 February 2015

Time: 6.30pm-8.30pm

Location: William Fry Theatre, UCD Sutherland School of Law (directions and map)

A reception will follow Prof. Dr. Schmidt-Räntsch’s keynote address.

2 CPD Points available for practitioners

There is no charge for this event, however registration is required. You can register here. For registration enquires, please contact law.events@ucd.ie . This event will be of interest to the Trans community, LGBTQQ activists, judges, lawyers, government and public administration officials, academics and students.

The Keynote Address

The Oireachtas begins 2015 with debates on the first ever legislation to officially recognise transgender persons in Ireland, the Gender Recognition Bill 2014. There is concern about some clauses of the proposed Bill, with transgender persons arguing that they are too restrictive and would exclude some people (see, here and here). A particularly contentious clause would require transgender persons who are already married or in a civil partnership to divorce as a pre-condition for recognition in their preferred gender.

What can we learn from the experience of other European countries like Germany, where the Constitutional Court struck down a similar ‘compulsory divorce’ provision and other provisions of the German Transsexual Law as being in breach of the German Constitution or Basic Law? Judge Schmidt-Räntsch will discuss the German experience of gender recognition legislation and fundamental rights.

Chair:

Ms Justice Catherine McGuinness, former Judge of the Irish Supreme Court.

Other Contributors:

Michael Farrell (FLAC)

Broden Giambrone (Transgender Equality Network Ireland) Continue reading “Seminar 5th Feb 2015 (Trans)Gender Recognition in Germany: The Role of the German Courts”

Seminar 5th Feb 2015 (Trans)Gender Recognition in Germany: The Role of the German Courts

Protecting Transgender Rights in Hong Kong: Equal Marriage Rights

Hong KongThis morning Hong Kong took a giant leap forward in protecting transgender rights in a judgment of the Court of Final Appeal  which will allow a trans* woman to marry her partner. In a judgment that some Irish politicians could do well to take note of the Court concluded that in multicultural jurisdiction such as Hong Kong, the nature of marriage as a social institution had undergone many alterations in that the importance of procreation as an essential constituent “has much diminished”. In a 4-1 running, the Court held that it is “contrary to principle to focus merely on biological features fixed at the time of birth and regarded as immutable” and held in favour of the Appellant.

The appellant, W, is a post-operative transsexual woman who wishes to marry her male partner. However the Registrar of Marriages (Registrar) declined to confirm that the appellant was permitted to marry her partner. The appellant commenced judicial review proceedings against the Registrar on the ground that the Registrar misinterpreted ss 21 and 40 of the Marriage Ordinance (Cap 181). This raised the issue of construction of whether a post-operative male-to-female transsexual was a woman or female for the purposes of the Marriage Ordinance. The same issue also arose in respect of s 20(1)(d) of the Matrimonial Causes Ordinance (Cap 179). The appellant sought an order quashing the Registrar’s decision and a declaration that the decision was unlawful on the basis that the Registrar misdirected himself in law by misinterpreting ss 21 and 40 of the Marriage Ordinance. The appellant’s alternative case, in the event it was held that the Registrar had not misinterpreted the statutory provisions in question, was that ss 21 and 40 of the Marriage Ordinance, in failing to recognise her as a woman or female, were unconstitutional Continue reading “Protecting Transgender Rights in Hong Kong: Equal Marriage Rights”

Protecting Transgender Rights in Hong Kong: Equal Marriage Rights

5th Anniversary of decision in Foy v An tArd Chlaraitheoir (No 2) [2007] IEHC 470

Human Rights in Ireland is pleased to host a blog carnival reflecting on the 5th anniversary of the decision in Foy (No 2). This blog carnival is organised by Dr Tanya Ní Mhuirthile. Tanya is a Senior Lecturer at Griffith College Dublin, is on the board of Transgender Equality Network Ireland and is a legal consultant to InterseXUK.

Five years ago today, Mr Justice McKechnie handed down his decision in Foy (No 2) in which he announced his intention to issue the first ever Declaration of Incompatibility under s5 of the European Convention on Human Rights Act 2003. The source of the incompatibility was the inability of Irish law to recognise the preferred gender identity of Dr Foy in contravention to the right to respect for one’s private life as contained in Article 8 ECHR.

Five years later, the incompatibility remains.

The Government has commissioned and published the report of the Gender Recognition Advisory Group (GRAG), and proposed legislation entitled the Gender Recognition Bill is on the ‘C’ list of the Legislative Programme for 2012 – meaning the heads of bill have yet to be approved by the Government. Nothing substantial has changed. As Mr Justice McKechnie noted in his judgment five years ago within a year of the decision in Goodwin v UK (2002) the House of Lords, issued a similar declaration of incompatibility under the Human Rights Act , 1998 in Bellinger v Bellinger [2003]. The following year the UK’s Gender Recognition Act 2004 had been passed. Thus Justice McKechnie noted: ‘Ireland, as of now, must be even further disconnected from Continue reading “5th Anniversary of decision in Foy v An tArd Chlaraitheoir (No 2) [2007] IEHC 470”

5th Anniversary of decision in Foy v An tArd Chlaraitheoir (No 2) [2007] IEHC 470

Long Awaited Report of the Gender Recognition Advisory Group

We are delighted to welcome this guest post from Tanya Ni Mhuirthile; post-doctoral fellow at the Faculty of Law, University College Cork, and board member of the Transgender Equality Network Ireland.

On Thursday, the report of the Gender Recognition Advisory Group (GRAG) was finally published. The GRAG was established last year to advise the Government on the introduction of gender recognition legislation for Ireland. As was recently identified in the report of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Ireland is one of only three EU member states (in addition to Lithuania and Luxemburg) where there is no legal mechanism to recognise the preferred gender identity of individuals who wish to be recognised in a gender other than that recorded at birth. The report is to be welcomed in that it represents an engagement by the State with this issue at last. However, it is also a missed opportunity to learn from and improve on the experiences of other states on this issue.

Continue reading “Long Awaited Report of the Gender Recognition Advisory Group”

Long Awaited Report of the Gender Recognition Advisory Group

Guest Post: Louise Hannon at the Equality Tribunal.

We are pleased to welcome this guest post from Tanya ni Mhuirthile of the Faculty of Law, UCC. Tanya is a member of the Board of Directors of the Transgender Equality Network Ireland.

The recent decision of the Equality Tribunal that discrimination on the basis of gender identity amounts to a breach of rights under the Employment Equality Acts is to be welcomed. It represents a huge step forward in terms of protection for those who have questioned their gender at birth.

Continue reading “Guest Post: Louise Hannon at the Equality Tribunal.”

Guest Post: Louise Hannon at the Equality Tribunal.

Gender Reassignment Surgery, Limited Resources, and 'Positive Results' for Society

Yesterday’s Sunday Tribune reported that Labour councillor, Colm Keaveney (left), is of the view that the HSE ought to desist from funding gender-reassignment surgery abroad (provided under the Treatment Abroad scheme) when there are children waiting for and being deniefd medical treatment here in Ireland. His view seems to be based on a multi-part premise that can be discerned from this quote from the article:

“When allocating scarce resources, we must establish what actually delivers best value for society and the individual,” he said.

“Depriving children of necessary aids and appliances at this point in their life will have a devastating social outcome in later years when compared to some very expensive procedures being paid for by the taxpayer.

“While I understand this may be offensive to transgender people, I would ask them to look at this through the eyes of a parent and try to empathise with how they feel about their child’s wellbeing.

“Given the dire straits the country finds itself in, it is vital that we focus government spending on areas that will deliver positive results for our society in the long run.”

So what are the elements of this premise upon which he rests his view? It seems to me that they are: (a) gender-reassignment surgery does not, relatively speaking, deliver ‘value’ or ‘positive results’ for society and the individual; (b) the healthcare needs of children should trump the healthcare needs of trans people where there are limited resources. Both of these elements are, to my mind, very worrying from a human rights perspective. Continue reading “Gender Reassignment Surgery, Limited Resources, and 'Positive Results' for Society”

Gender Reassignment Surgery, Limited Resources, and 'Positive Results' for Society

16 Days: Day 17 – Violence Against Transgender People

Over the past two and a half weeks, this blog has marked the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence event by highlighting many of the campaigns and issues touching on violence against women. The focus of these posts has been on violence against women as this is the theme of this year’s event. However, a notable exception to this discussion has been the issue of violence against transgender people.

Transphobia encompasses not just the revulsion and irrational fears of transgender and transsexual people, but also includes cross dressers, feminine men, and masculine women. Therefore, it covers complex issues of gender roles and gender identities.

Transgender people are often denied legal recognition in their preferred gender identity. Such is the legal situation in Ireland, as has been discussed on this blog here and here. Yet, the prejudices and injustices experienced by transgender people are not limited to the lack of legal recognition.

Violence, based on their gendered status, is regularly experienced by many transgender people. November 20th last, marked the 11th Annual International Transgender Day of Remembrance, which commemorates the fact that every day, all over the world, thousands of trans people are excluded, persecuted, hated, mistreated, subjected to aggression and routinely murdered or driven to suicide because of the transphobia of others.

Recently, the Transgender Equality Network Ireland published an excellent report ‘Transphobia in Ireland’. We want to draw readers’ attention to this much needed research.

16 Days: Day 17 – Violence Against Transgender People

Gender Recognition Legislation in the New Year?

The Irish Examiner reports today that, on foot of a Green Party proposal, legislation ‘allowing transsexuals to be recognised in their acquired gender’ will go before the Dail in the new year. The Examiner reports that ‘the state has dropped an appeal of a High Court decision that it is in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights in not having a process and a register legally to recognise the acquired gender of transsexual persons.’ Tanya blogged about the proposals for gender recognition legislation in the new Programme for Government in some depth here. We hope to provide commentary when details of the proposed legislation emerge.

Update: Great video interview with Lydia Foy and Michael Farrell of FLAC here.

Hat-tip: One of our readers, Cat McIlroy, says

I spoke with Dr. Foy’s solicitor this afternoon to clarify the appeal statement in the Irish Examiner – neither he nor Lydia has heard anything regarding the Government dropping the appeal.

Thanks Cat!

Gender Recognition Legislation in the New Year?

New Programme for Government Promises the Introduction of Gender Recognition Legislation

Dr Lydia FoyNext Monday it will be two years since Mr Justice Liam McKechnie handed down his groundbreaking decision in Foy v An tArd Chlaraitheoir (No 2). In that case His Lordship issued the first ever Declaration of Incompatibility between Irish law and Ireland’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights. The cause of the incompatibility was the inability of Irish law to recognise the preferred gender identity of transgender people.

The Declaration should have put in motion a series of events which would have resulted in the Taoiseach reading the order into the records of each House of the Oireachtas within 21 working days (s5 of the ECHR Act, 2003). However, as this was the first time such an order had been handed down, His Lordship put a stay of two months on the implementation of the order to give the State the opportunity to decide whether to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. On Friday, March 28th 2008 notice of such an appeal was lodged with the Supreme Court. The case has yet to be listed for hearing.

Continue reading “New Programme for Government Promises the Introduction of Gender Recognition Legislation”

New Programme for Government Promises the Introduction of Gender Recognition Legislation