Few role models for gays, warns Power

 

SEANAD:Many young people are unhappy because they are robbed of role models and of teachers who cannot be free to be themselves in terms of their sexual orientation, Averil Power (FF) has said. “That is one of the factors that leads to isolation, unhappiness and depression, and, ultimately, suicide among our young people.”

Calling for a more urgent approach to changing legislation permitting religious-run institutions to discriminate against employees or potential employees on the grounds of being lesbian, gay or bisexual, she said the possibility of such discrimination was a source of fear and unhappiness for LGBT people, especially teachers and doctors, among others, many of whom found it necessary to hide something as important as their sexual orientation from colleagues “and have to go to work every day pretending to be somebody that they are not”.

Almost a year ago, the Government had voted down a Fianna Fáil Bill aimed at rectifying this state of affairs. The Minister for Justice had given an undertaking at that time to bring forward amendments to section 37 of the Employment Equality Act early this year.

It was disappointing to learn that the development of such proposals was still contingent on the merging of equality bodies, which was proceeding at a slow pace.

Discrimination

Ms Power said she did not accept the need for consultation on the principle of change in this area of equality. If religious institutions were to be allowed to discriminate on the basis of a person’s colour or another intrinsic characteristic, they would not be asked for their opinion on whether they should change their attitude.

Responding on behalf of Minister for Justice Alan Shatter, Minister for Trade Joe Costello said the proposed legislation on the merging of the equality bodies was close to being brought to Cabinet.

There was a need for consultation on possible changes to the Equality Act because the Supreme Court had found the existing legislation was constitutional. The section in question had been designed to allow schools and other institutions to maintain their ethos.