A proposed amendment to Irish law which currently allows schools to fire gay teachers will be published Friday and may get government backing.
As it stands, Section 37 of the Employment Equality Act in Ireland includes a provision allowing institutions to take necessary action with teachers who might be “undermining the religious ethos” of a school. The proposed legislation would remedy this and is expected to place responsibility on state-funded institutions to strictly adhere to equality.
The right of a school to uphold its ethos could be maintained by providing for some exemptions to remain regarding the actions of staff in the workplace, as opposed to their personal lives.
Ireland’s Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn is an advocate of full equality in this area. However, changes to the law fall under the remit of the Department of Justice and amendments must be considered in terms of their compatibility with the Irish Constitution, which acknowledges the special position of the Catholic Church.
“Many LGBT teachers feel constrained in what they can disclose about their personal lives to their colleagues fearing that this will affect their career or even their daily working experience in the school,” said Quinn in an interview with 429Magazine.
“They may also fear the prejudices of parents and students. In essence, it forces many into a denial of who they are,” he continued.
“I am working closely with my colleague, Alan Shatter T.D., the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defense, to address this issue,” he added.
“Minister Shatter will be asking the new Irish Human Rights and Equality Commissioners to examine the issue as a priority and to report back to both of us with their views and recommendations.”