Lydia Foy Honoured by European Diversity Body

30 August 2013

Dec 2012 - ThomasHammarberg, Lydia Foy, Peter Ward
Thomas Hammarberg, Lydia Foy and FLAC Chair Peter Ward SC at 6th Dave Ellis Memorial Lecture 2012, 13 Dec 2012. Photo by Derek Speirs

Irish transgender woman Lydia Foy has been shortlisted for Campaigner of the Year for the highly prestigious European Diversity Awards. Ms Foy is one of eight nominees for the award which is sponsored by Barclays Bank. The winner and a runner-up will be announced at a gala dinner in London on 26th September.

"This is a major honour for Lydia Foy and marks 20 years of struggle since she first began campaigning for recognition in her female gender in 1993", said Michael Farrell, FLAC Senior Solicitor. Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC) has represented Dr Foy in a series of legal challenges over the last 16 years.

"It is also a rebuke to successive Irish governments which have failed to introduce legislation to recognise transgender persons ever since the European Court of Human Rights held that this was a basic human right in 2002. Ireland is now the only state in the European Union that has no provision for legal recognition of transgender persons", commented Mr Farrell.

The European Diversity Awards, which are sponsored by Barclays, Google and a number of other major companies, are seen as Europe's major platform for recognising campaigning work for diversity and inclusion in the workplace and society as a whole. Last year's winner of Campaigner of the Year was Doreen Lawrence, mother of black teenager Stephen Lawrence who was murdered by racists in London in 1993.

Senator David Norris has also been nominated for his long struggle for gay and lesbian rights in Ireland and elsewhere and with two Irish persons on the shortlist for Campaigner of the Year, there must be a good chance of one of them winning one of the top two positions.

The dinner at which the winners of the Awards will be announced will be held in the great hall of London's iconic Natural History Museum.

Dr Foy won a High Court case in October 2007, when the court ruled that her rights under the European Convention on Human Rights had been violated by the failure to recognise her in her female gender. The Government announced Heads of a Bill to recognise transpersons last month but it has been widely criticised by the transgender community and no timetable has yet been set for bringing in legislation.

This recognition by Europe's major diversity supporters must put serious pressure on the Government to bring in generous and inclusive legislation as soon as possible, concluded Mr Farrell.




Editors' notes:

  1. FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres) is a human rights organisation which exists to promote equal access to justice for all. As an NGO, FLAC relies on a combination of statutory funding, contributions from the legal professions and donations from individuals and grant-making foundations to support its work.
  2. We offer basic legal information through our telephone information line and free legal advice through a network of 80 volunteer evening advice centres. FLAC also campaigns on a range of issues including personal debt, fairness in social welfare law, public interest law and civil legal aid.
  3. You can download a briefing note on the Foy case (Feb 2013) from the FLAC website.
  4. More information on the European Diversity Awards is available on their dedicated website.