The draft legislation to provide for the merger of the Human Rights Commission and the Equality Authority to form a new enhanced Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) is close to being finalised and I expect to publish this Bill shortly.
In the meantime, and pending enactment of the Bill, the members designate of the new Commission have been appointed on an interim basis to the two existing bodies so as to ensure that they operate in an integrated way and that the necessary arrangements for the merger can be progressed on an administrative basis.
As I announced on the occasion of their appointment on 16 April 2013, I have asked the members designate of the Commission to examine, as a priority, the potential impact of section 37 of the Employment Equality Acts on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, to undertake an extensive consultative process and formal assessment of the options for its amendment and to let me have their recommendations. The Commission is acting on this request and is carrying out a public consultation on this issue. The Commission invited submissions to be made to them by 13 November 2013 by any interested party, including individual persons who have a view on the issue. I understand that the Commission has received some 60 individual submissions, which are currently being examined. While not being in a position yet to say when its report will be completed, the Commission has indicated to me that it will be progressed as quickly as possible.
I look forward to receiving a report from the Commission with its recommendations in due course. At that stage, I will bring forward my proposals to Government in relation to such amendments as are necessary to the Employment Equality Act.