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Historic Bill Drafted by Laoise De Brún BL

Gender Recognition (Amendment) (Prisons) Bill 2023

New Bill aims to amend the GRA 2015 and stop males being housed in Irish women’s prisons

The Bill was drafted by Laoise de Brún BL and introduced to the Dáil by Peadar Tóibín TD and has been signed by Carol Nolan TD already

The Gender Recognition (Amendment) (Prisons) Bill 2023 was launched this week, along with our comprehensive Position Paper entitled Gender and Sex in Irish Prisons, which gives background, facts, and statistics supporting the bill. The paper fully explores and explains The Countess position on how the needs of all prisoners, especially women, can be met by the re-adoption of a policy of single-sex provision.

The system of gender self-identification introduced in the Gender Recognition Act 2015 has led to the housing of male prisoners within the women’s prison estate in Ireland. Concern for the vulnerable women housed with these men was a catalyst for the founding of The Countess in 2020. A Bill drafted by CEO and founder, Laoise De Brún BL, and introduced to the Dáil by Peadar Tóibín TD aims to rectify this situation and we are urging TDs to follow Deputy Carol Nolan’s lead and sign the Bill to allow speedy passage through the Dáil. If the Bill is signed by ten TDs, it is much more likely to be brought before the House.

De Brún said “No man should ever be housed in female prison regardless of how they identify. Men and women have been housed in separate prisons since the Prisons (Ireland) Act 1826. One of the many unintended consequences of the 2015 GRA has been a reversal of this policy of sex separation, which was brought about by reformers like Elizabeth Fry to protect female prisoners from male prisoners”.

De Brún says therefore that the only solution is to limit the scope of the effect of the Gender Recognition Certificate to protect women from being at risk from sharing prisons with men who identify as women. Denmark has a similar system of gender self-ID and yet has been able to protect female prisoners and house prisoners according to sex. The proposed Bill would give legal protections to the Irish Prison Service and allow prisons to be reverted to single sex-institutions.

There are currently two male prisoners housed in Limerick women’s prison, and this is causing harm the to both women who are incarcerated there, and to the female prison officers who have expressed concern about their own safely in light of threats made by one of these violent men.

De Brún further stated “The recent British policy change triggered by the public outcry that ensued when a male rapist was housed in a female prison in Scotland is predicated on their having no legal requirement to house trans-identified men in female prison. That is not the case in this jurisdiction where we have full, unfettered self-ID and a legal requirement to treat all men who acquire gender recognition certificates as though they were women. The only solution is to limit the scope of the Gender Recognition Certificate, which is what we have done in my drafting of this amendment. It behoves legislators to vote to close the gaps that are now obvious to all reasonable people and to amend the GRA to exclude prisons from the scope. This historic bill is the first to be introduced in any country with full gender self-ID, aiming to protect those most affected by this ill-thought out policy. It is the first time an activist organisation has been able to bring forward legislation limit the scope of full gender self ID and we at the Countess are very proud to be able to do so.”

De Brún went on to say “These women are the most vulnerable in society, those kept in the care and custody of the state, 95% of whom are non-violent. The Countess has long viewed the granting of a Gender Recognition Certificate as an access-all-area pass for predators, chancers, transgressors and cheats and nowhere are the consequences felt more viscerally than in prisons. In the Irish prison system, and in all prison systems beholden to gender self-ID, the data is the same and irrefutable. Either trans-identified male prisoners are more likely to be sex offenders than other male prisoners OR sexual predators are using this loophole to get sent to female prison. It must one of these two things. And this loophole must be closed”.

Members of the public can help with this campaign by emailing their local county councillors, TDs and Senators. Share on social media and make your voice heard.

The Proposed Bill is below, and The Countess Full Prisons Paper can be found at: