Yes side says teaching won’t change if marriage vote passes

Campaigners also reject constitutional recognition in case of No in referendum

Minister for Communications  and Labour Party director of elections  Alex White   puts up a poster urging a Yes vote in the same-sex marriage referendum. Mr White has said there will be ‘no constraint’ on teaching if the referendum passes. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Minister for Communications and Labour Party director of elections Alex White puts up a poster urging a Yes vote in the same-sex marriage referendum. Mr White has said there will be ‘no constraint’ on teaching if the referendum passes. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

Campaigners for the Yes side in the same-sex marriage referendum have said that teaching practices will not change if the vote passes, following claims that a Yes vote would make it difficult for schools to teach that marriage is between a man and a woman.

A proposal for constitutional recognition of same-sex couples in the event of a No vote in Friday’s referendum has also been rejected by the Yes side.

The Catholic church said over the weekend that a Yes vote will make it “increasingly difficult” to teach that marriage is between opposite-sex couples.

Speaking this morning, Gráinne Healy of Yes Equality said that “teachers follow the curriculum”.

“It is just about teachers presenting what is in the curriculum, regardless of their own views or thoughts,” Ms Healy said.

“It is parents who provide children with their values and it is schools who teach what is part of the curriculum.

“The curriculum is developed and devised by the National Curriculum Council and that is what gets developed and delivered in schools. There is nothing going to change about that because of the referendum.”

Minister for Communications Alex White, the Labour Party’s director of elections, said there is “no constraint and there absolutely will be no constraint on any church in respect of what it teaches”.

“The Catholic church and Catholic teaching has been taught in our schools for decades, in circumstances where the Constitution has changed to accommodate divorce, in circumstances where contraception was introduced a generation ago,” Mr White said.

“The Catholic church still maintains a very strong position against many of these changes in civil society and changes in the Constitution and in our laws and I have never heard anybody saying that they were constrained in any way to continue to teach the basic principles of the Catholic church.”

Other religions, as well as Catholicism, can “co-exist with a strong civil society”, he said.

Constitutional recognition

Ms Healy also said the No side’s proposal for constitutional recognition for same-sex couples if the referendum is defeated “rings hollow”.

Ms Healy said: “To be suggesting three or four days out from the poll itself that a group of organisations and individuals who have persistently voted against and denigrated civil partnership when it came, that now they suddenly [have] taken up a new found interest in protecting the rights of same-sex couples, to be honest, it just rings quite hollow.

“What people are being asked to vote on on Friday is to include same-sex couples into the same institution that all other people can enter. And really trying to promote the continuation of segregation of same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples is in no one’s interest. And inserting something like that into the Constitution - I don’t think Irish people would have that.”

Mr White said turnout will be crucial on Friday.

“The question is the turnout on Friday, and who turns out,” Mr White said.

“I think that is critically important. We’re saying to Yes people: if you support this, we want you to vote for it.”

He also said he is “hopeful” the proposition will pass.

“I think what the opinion polls tell you is the public opinion has swung, I think, quite strongly in favour of this proposition but that masks the whole issue of turnout.”