Oct 222012
Protesters at a gender recognition demonstration outside the Dáil on Saturday

GOVERNMENT has no committed time frame to provide legislation for legal recognition of transgender people, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said yesterday.

Speaking at the closing of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (ILGA) European conference in Dublin yesterday, he said the Government was committed to developing legislation for gender recognition but that no time frame for this could be given.

“There is no committed time frame. It’s not a case of putting it off, but I’m not putting a timetable on it.”

Regarding same-sex marriage, Mr Gilmore said he was not disappointed the Taoiseach did not support his views on the topic and that from a Government perspective the issue would be dealt with in the upcoming constitutional convention.

Mr Gilmore is the highest ranking official to give a closing speech in the ILGA conference’s 16-year history. In his speech he praised lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people for their “unique insight” into the importance of human rights.

Mr Gilmore said Ireland was honoured to be chosen as a venue for the ILGA, and that it was a testimony to Ireland’s “remarkable journey” on the progression of LGBTI rights.

“There is a generation of young Irish people now for who the Ireland of 20 or 30 years ago will be almost unrecognisable,” Mr Gilmore said.

“That was an Ireland where divorce was illegal, banned by our Constitution, where contraception was banned and where less than 20 years ago, 1993, homosexuality was a criminal offence. The campaign to liberalise Ireland’s laws was at times a difficult and divisive struggle.”

He said thousands of Irish LGBTI people who would previously have felt the need to leave the country now stayed, and he praised “all the activists, civil society organisations, politicians and individuals from all walks of life who kept the dream of human rights alive and who also acted out of responsibility to change this country for the better”.

He recognised violence against LGBTI people internationally as a violation of human rights and said he hoped Ireland’s progress in legislating for the rights of LGBTI people would offer “comfort” to delegates present from countries where oppression is rife.

In 2007, at the occasion of the United Nations universal periodic review of human rights, he said there were “objection to issues in relation to sexual orientation even being raised”, but that now “it is routinely discussed and countries are engaging in a more considered exchange of views”.

He praised the United Nations for the great progress that had been made.

The four-day international conference – the theme was Advancing LGBTI Equality in Challenging Times – was attended by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights on Friday.

Some 235 participants took part in workshops and seminars from 42 countries.


PHOTO: Protesters at a gender recognition demonstration outside the Dáil on Saturday