Northern Ireland

Transgender man's legal challenge to N Ireland Secretary

Marriage Certificate Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The man married his long-term partner after he officially changed his gender.

A transgender man has issued legal proceedings against the Northern Ireland secretary over his marriage certificate.

The man, who has been granted anonymity, wants to have his gender history removed from the certificate.

He married his partner after he officially changed his sex.

The High Court declared in 2016 that his rights to privacy were breached over a reference on the publically accessible marriage certificate.

The man's lawyers claim the political stalemate at Stormont means the Department of Finance cannot remove the gender reference.

Northern Ireland has been without a functioning government since January 2017, when a power-sharing deal between the DUP and Sinn Fein collapsed.

Ciaran Moynagh, the man's solicitor, said given the lack of a breakthrough , his client had no choice but to lodge proceedings against the Department of Finance and the Northern Ireland Secretary, Karen Bradley.

He said: "Since 2016, our client has waited for his amended marriage certificate, but it now seems that no one will remedy the breach and it continues indefinitely. This is unacceptable."

Mr Moynagh said his client wanted "his rights protected and respected in accordance with the initial judgement" and that there was an onus on Mrs Bradley and the British government to uphold its duties.

It is likely that a hearing to decide whether the man can be granted leave for a judicial review will not be held until the Autumn.

Image copyright ADP/Getty Images
Image caption Karen Bradley is also facing a legal challenge from a victim of historic institutional abuse.

The Northern Ireland secretary is already facing another legal challenge from a victim of historical institutional abuse.

In April, the High Court granted a full judicial review of the Northern Ireland secretary and Executive Office's failure to implement a financial redress or compensation scheme.

The High Court ruled that the applicant, known only as JR80, had an arguable case.

"No time limit"

A lawyer representing JR80, argued that Mrs Bradley has a residual power to set up a scheme in the absence of a restoration of the devolved executive.

The barrister also argued that the she has disregarded her duty to call a fresh assembly election.

Lawyers acting for Karen Bradley contended that she has no residual power as the redress scheme recommended by Sir Anthony Hart is a matter for the Stormont Executive and that there is no time limit for the secretary of state calling an election.

Section 32.3 of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement Act states that the Northern Ireland secretary has a legal obligation to call another election if the posts of an Executive Minister are not filled within 14 days of the first meeting of an assembly following an election.

The last election in Northern Ireland was March 2017.

The two largest parties, the DUP and Sinn Fein, did not nominate ministers within the required 14 days, and civil servants have been taking some decisions in the absence of an executive.

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