The Gender Recognition Bill 2013: Hidden Gatekeeper Requirements

AuthorPeter Dunne
PositionArthur C Helton Fellow 2013, American Society of International Law (ASIL)
[2014] COLR
Peter Dunne*
In July 2013, the Irish Minister for Social Protection (the Minister), Joan Burton TD,
published the draft headings of the Gender Recognition Bill 20131 (the GRB 2013). The
proposed legislation would establish a statutory regime for the recognition of gender identity2
in Ireland and is intended to meet the State’s obligations under International and European
Human Rights law. Ireland is currently the only member of the European Union which
provides no procedure by which individuals may have their gender identity formally
recognised.3 This legal lacuna places the Irish State in direct violation of its obligations under
both the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights4 and the European Convention
on Human Rights.5 Commenting on the absence of gender identity recognition in Ireland,
former Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg has stated
that ‘there is no excuse…for not granting [Irish transgender persons] their full and
unconditional human rights.’6
The GRB 2013 is the first ever attempt by an Irish government to formally acknowledge the
transgender community. The proposed legislation, however, would introduce an extremely
conservative regime, with significant restrictions on access to gender identity recognition.
* Arthur C Helton Fellow 2013, American Society of International Law (ASIL). The author wishes to thank
ASIL and the Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) for their generous support, assistance and advice in
drafting this article. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and in no way reflect the
official position of either ASIL or TENI.
1 The Gender Recognition Bill 2013 (the GRB 2013)
Bill-2013.aspx> accessed 17 February 2014.
2 ‘Gender Identity refers to a person’s deeply-felt identification as male, female, or some other gender’.
Yogyakarta Principles: The Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation
and Gender Identity,> accessed 17 February 2014.
3 Michael Farrell, ‘Lydia Foy’s 20-year Battle for Legal Recognition’ in Equality and Identity: Transgender
and Intersex Experience in Ireland (TENI 2013) 17.
4 United Nations Human Rights Committee, ‘Concluding Observations for Ireland’ (CCPR/C/IRL/CO/, Geneva,
2008) [8],>
accessed 17 February 2014.
5 Foy v An tArd Chláraitheoir [2007] IEHC 470; see also Goodwin v United Kingdom [2002] 35 EHRR 18.
6 Thomas Hammarberg, ‘There is no excuse’, Equality and Identity: Transgender and Intersex Experience in
Ireland (TENI 2013) 14.

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