Thursday, 5 December 2019

Questions (394, 395, 396)

Ruth Coppinger

Question:

394. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the composition of the interdepartmental group examining facilitation of non-binary genders within public services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50763/19]

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Ruth Coppinger

Question:

395. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the terms of reference of the research into non-binary and intersex recognition for those aged under 16 years of age; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50764/19]

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Ruth Coppinger

Question:

396. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to publish a Bill that would make amendments to the Gender Recognition Act 2015 in line with recommendations of the Gender Recognition Act 2015 review. [50765/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 394 to 396, inclusive, together.

In my report under section 7 of the Gender Recognition Act 2015, I have set out my proposals for legislation in response to the recommendations of the Review Group report. These are as follows:

- Simplifying the path to legal gender recognition for children aged 16/17 years by introducing an arrangement for self-declaration, with parental consent; a simple revocation process; and by making family mediation support available on a voluntary basis.

- In order to bring greater clarity to the fact that legal gender recognition is separate and distinct from any question of medical intervention, I propose to legislate to identify clearly on a gender recognition certificate for 16 and 17 year olds that it is awarded on the basis of self-declaration only.

- To provide that a gender recognition certificate may be used to provide proof of change of name as well as proof of change of gender.

- To provide that Irish citizens born outside the State and living outside the State (including Northern Ireland) would be allowed to apply for a gender recognition certificate.

The next step is for the general scheme of the bill to be referred to the Joint Committee on Employment Affairs and Social Protection for pre-legislative scrutiny.

The Review Group report recommended extending legal gender recognition to non-binary people, while also recognising the complexity of the issue and acknowledging that a comprehensive impact analysis may be required. An interdepartmental group will be established shortly that will be tasked with carrying out this impact assessment and submitting a report to Government for consideration by the end of 2020. This group will include representatives from Government Departments and their agencies with significant involvement and interest in this area.

In the meantime, Government Departments and other public bodies will take positive steps to improve the position of non-binary people. This could include measures such as:

- promoting the use and acceptance of correct pronouns;

- improving the design of official forms and documentation to permit the use of a third gender option, or no gender at all, where it is possible to do so.

In addition to these measures I will also jointly commission research, in conjunction with the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, to examine issues of concern for children under 16 years. I have also agreed to a further review of the Act to be commenced within two years of the commencement of any amending provisions. Terms of reference for this work will be developed at the appropriate time.