Bill removing LGBT discrimination passes final Dáil stages

‘Chilling effect’ for workers in religious-run State institutions removed - Ó Riordáin

 “The Equality [Miscellaneous Provisions] Bill is the key piece of the legislative map that will allow LGBT people to be themselves, get married and have a family without a threat to their job if they work in a religious-run institution,’’ GLEN director of education policy Sandra Irwin-Gowran said. Photograph:  Mark R Cristino/EPA

“The Equality [Miscellaneous Provisions] Bill is the key piece of the legislative map that will allow LGBT people to be themselves, get married and have a family without a threat to their job if they work in a religious-run institution,’’ GLEN director of education policy Sandra Irwin-Gowran said. Photograph: Mark R Cristino/EPA

 

Minister of State for Justice Aodhán Ó Riordáin has said legislation passed by the Dáil removes the “chilling effect” of discrimination against people working in religious-run State institutions.

He said the Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, which passed its final stages without opposition on Wednesday night, meant members of the LGBT community, divorcees and single parents working in schools and hospitals under religious patronage could not be discriminated against.

“I am proud of this Bill, having spent four years of my career bringing it to the eventuality it will become tonight,” he added.

Labour TD Eric Byrne said years ago some members of the Dáil made the mistake of empowering the Catholic Church to discriminate against LGBT teachers.

‘Extraordinary situation’

Social Democrats TD Róisín Shortall said there were significant discrimination issues on religious grounds in education.

“We have an extraordinary situation where a great many parents believe they have no choice but to have their newborn babies baptised if they are to have any chance to get them into their local school,” she added.

Ms Shortall said the Equal Status Act 2000 allowed very definite discrimination on religious grounds and should be amended.

Mr Ó Riordáin said there was a constitutional issue at play and it was not an issue for the Bill before the House.

“It is not in any way our intention to have a situation persist where children are precluded from attending their local school,” he added.

“It is my firm belief and personal view that the issue at the heart of the education system is that it is one which is dominated by patronage, and not child-centred.’’

Delight expressed

In a statement, GLEN, the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network, expressed delight at the Bill’s passing.

“The Bill is the key piece of the legislative map that will allow LGBT people to be themselves, get married and have a family without a threat to their job if they work in a religious-run institution,’’ director of education policy Sandra Irwin-Gowran said.

The Bill now goes to President Michael D Higgins for signing.