I have met Mr. Giambrone a couple of times to discuss this issue and the group will know from that and from my correspondence with the Minister for Social Protection that I fully support the group’s work on this.
It is beyond time we gave proper recognition to transgender people and I share the views that have been outlined about the legislation. It is very important because we have an opportunity to learn from the countries that went before us. We are one of the last countries to give transgender people the recognition and support they deserve. We have the opportunity to learn from the weaknesses in the British legislation. It is unfortunate, however, that the report earlier this year stated we should copy the British legislation. I was at the conference of our sister party in England, the Liberal Democrats, and I met the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender group and one of the issues we discussed was the deficiencies in the British legislation that the party is now working to change. We have the opportunity to avoid that from the outset and go with best practice, such as the Argentinian experience, or to look elsewhere and get this right from the start rather than making the mistakes others made ten or 15 years ago.
Have there been any signals from the Department about where we are at on this? When I wrote to the Minister during the summer, she had a date in the autumn set for coming to the Seanad to discuss the legislation, and that was put back. Would the group have a better idea about the timeframe from its engagement with the Department? I sent the group’s criticisms to the Minister and she replied that they were being considered, but it was a general response rather than saying whether she agreed with the issues.
Forced divorce is a crazy concept and I appreciate this is part of the broader picture in respect of marriage equality because that is legally where things are tied up. I would like to see a clearer response from the Department. I have not seen it myself so does the group know what the Department is thinking now?