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Children under 16 will be able to change gender under proposed FG plan

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The report was drafted by Fine Gael’s LGBT committee, which  includes Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as a member. Photo: Arthur Carron

The report was drafted by Fine Gael’s LGBT committee, which includes Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as a member. Photo: Arthur Carron

The report was drafted by Fine Gael’s LGBT committee, which includes Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as a member. Photo: Arthur Carron

Children under the age of 16 will be able to legally change their gender under plans being discussed by Fine Gael.

A Fine Gael policy paper drafted for the government formation talks recommends changing laws to allow children to change their gender.

Under current legislation, only those over the age of 18 can legally change their gender in Ireland.

Children aged 16 and 17 can apply to the courts to have their gender changed if they have parental consent and medical approval.

However, in the report drafted by Fine Gael's LGBT committee it is recommended that these children should be free to legally self-declare their own gender.

The committee, which includes Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as a member, also says laws need to be changed to allow all children under 16 to change their gender with parental approval.

It says laws should be changed to "permit children aged under 16 years of age to secure legal recognition of gender by removing the criterion relating to minimum age".

The 15-page report also recommends that the Gender Recognition Act 2015 be changed to "allow for the recognition of a gender other than male or female in law".

It says that current legislation allows changes of gender "only from female to male and from male to female".

"Where a person declares in the female gender the sex of that person will be listed as female and where a person declares as male gender the sex will be listed as male," it adds.

The committee notes that countries including Germany, Denmark and Canada allow people to declare a "third gender" on official documentation.

Passports

It recommends that the next government should allow people who do not consider themselves either male or female to be permitted to mark X on their passports.

This would mean Irish passports would have three gender categories - male, female and X.

The policy paper also calls for changes to the Road Traffic Act to allow for the introduction of rainbow-coloured pedestrian crossings.

The legislation at present only allows black and white markings and the Dail will have to pass an amendment to allow rainbow-coloured crossings similar to those in Brussels, San Francisco and Sydney.

The report says Dublin City Council officials have welcomed the idea of commemorating the passing of the Marriage Equality Act with a rainbow crossing - but are prohibited from doing so because of legislation.

The committee also calls for an easing of restrictions on gay men who wish to donate blood.

Gay men who wish to give blood must not engage in sexual activity for 12 months before donating under laws introduced in 2016. Before this they were banned from donating blood.

The Fine Gael LGBT committee wants the deferral period on sexual activity reduced to three months, as in Britain and Northern Ireland.

It also called for controversial conversion therapies to be banned in Ireland as they are "extremely damaging to a person's mental health and, in certain circumstances, physical well-being".

It also wants major legislative reforms to address the "alarming" lack of LGBTI+ sex education in schools.

The report also says the Government's Anti-Bullying Plan should be updated to recognise gender identity bullying.

It also calls for the criminal records for homosexual men convicted of historical offences to be expunged.