Back in 2010 Ireland passed the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010, which granted same-sex partners rights and responsibilities similar, but not equal to, civil marriage. For instance, civil partners have to wait at least two years before dissolving their partnership, cannot be judicially separated, may not enter into joint adoption or have joint guardianship over children. Oh…and it didn’t apply to transpeople.
That last may seem strange but Ireland has not yet seen fit to recognize the gender of transpeople legally. So “same sex” was deemed not to apply to us.
Since 2002, the European Convention on Human Rights has guaranteed the rights of transsexual people to have their gender recognised and to marry someone of a different gender. To date, Ireland has not reformed its laws that fail to recognise gender change and permit marriage.
Now maybe some people understand why I insist the wording be marriage equality and not same-sex marriage or gay marriage.
One transwoman found a way to get married in Ireland anyway. Known only as Maria in the media, she won the right to enter into a civil partnership with her partner, who happens to be another woman and also not an Irish national. Had she been Irish, the legal joining would not have occurred. But she is a citizen of a country which does recognize her gender, having issued her a corrected birth certificate and identity papers declaring her to be female. Under EU law on free movement of workers, Ireland was forced to accept that documentation…not that they didn’t try to interfere. Maria was represented by Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC).
FLAC has published details of the civil partnership registration in order to highlight the legal anomaly which does not currently allow transpeople to enter into marriages or civil partnerships, a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton has pledged to publish legislation this year to provide for recognition of the new acquired gender of transgender people, but it hasn’t happened yet. FLAC has promised further legal challenges until the law is amended.