I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."
When we discuss sexuality, orientation, identity and LGBT rights, we must be mindful that many members of the LGBT community across the globe still put their lives on the line to do as we do today. I refer, in particular, to the LGBT community in Chechnya, which is facing unprecedented levels of persecution, murder and violence. They are not alone and we will be with them always. Those who deny the existence of gay men in Chechnya should know that Ireland condemns their murder and hate, and stands with all those who seek to overcome their violence with solidarity, compassion, actions that, I hope, speak louder than words, truth, and love against a force of evil.
Today presents an opportunity for us to also reflect on the importance of having these conversations in this institution because we must with urgency enable all our communities to see themselves in Leinster House where Senators and Deputies reflect all the cultures and subcultures that speak of, and for, a new Ireland of all genders and none, of all ages, of all sexual orientation and social backgrounds, of all skin colour, and regardless of a disability. Ireland is not one-dimensional and it is time for this institution to catch up because Ireland will be best served by a diversity of imagination. I see an Oireachtas that does not speak to itself, an institution that does not make promises it cannot keep and keeps every commitment that it makes. I see an Oireachtas where political representatives face outward, talk less and listen more. I see an Oireachtas that stands for inclusivity, not a morning prayer. I see an Oireachtas made up of political representatives who alongside their communities are the engine for change in whatever form that community takes. If not, that Government would, therefore, be unsustainable.
It is with great pride that I introduce my second Bill since entering the House last year. I thank the Government and the Minister for Social Protection for their engagement and for providing time for the debate. I thank Independent Senator, David Norris, and Senator Grace O'Sullivan of the Green Party for co-signing the Bill. This is a recognition of goodwill and support across this Chamber.
In two months, we will celebrate the second anniversary of a milestone for transgender rights in Ireland. We are two years into the operation of the Gender Recognition Act 2015 during which hundreds of trans people have shared with their families, neighbours, colleagues and friends the joy, celebration and empowerment that comes from such recognition. It is two years since the Government refused, to its credit, to settle for second best, seeing self-determination as common sense and insisting on Ireland being a global leader for transgender rights.
It is two years since the commencement of the Gender Recognition Act and now is the time to move forward. It is the time for renewed critical thought and to inject positive change to make the lives of trans and LGB young people a little easier because growing up LGBT can be tough. Two years since the commencement of the Act, young trans people continue to live unrecognised by their State while others on reaching the ages of 16 and 17 face a process that is invasive, gruelling and problematic, but we can do better because, although the Act falls short in many ways, there is a vital and intrinsic ambition in it that recognises the right to self-determination. This ambition sets us apart in an international context and says to trans people across the globe that this is what can be achieved, and that when their struggle meets a setback, their spirits are low and inequality weighs heavy on their hearts, there are regions in the world that offer hope and that raise the bar.
Ireland can, and must, act as a beacon of hope for marginalised people everywhere and ensure the core human decency that is common among our people is built on proactively with empathy, inclusion and education around the complexities of the trans lived experience. The 2015 Act is also the result of tireless activism and campaigning by members of the trans community, many of whom join us from TENI and other organisations in the Visitors Gallery. The Seanad salutes their activism and I thank them for it.