Ahead of Ireland's landmark popular referendum on marriage equality, which saw more than 62% of the population turn out in support of their LGBT neighbors, the Irish government adopted expanded same-sex parental and family rights. Now, Minister of State for Equality Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has unveiled plans to strengthen workplace protections for teachers and staff at religious schools and hospitals.
The Irish Times
, the current law allows for denominational institutions to discriminate against potential and current employees if it is felt that "an individual undermines their ethos."
Ó Ríordáin has said that he believes a repeal of section 37.1 of the act that allows for organizations to discriminate would be unconstitutional, but has offered a novel way to circumvent the obstacle: "rais[ing] the bar of the ‘undermining’ to be so high as to be irrelevant what somebody’s personal life would be.”
In the minister's own words:
“Effectively you have a situation where an awful lot of teachers in primary and secondary schools would have voted Yes [in the marriage referendum] on Friday, would have gone out and celebrated over the weekend, possibly went back into their staff rooms on Monday morning and didn’t tell anybody what they were up to because they felt it would impact on their promotion prospects in the school.”
Since 2000, there has been talk of ammending the law but, given the momentum, Ó Ríordáin has expressed confidence that the change will take place before the beginning of the new school year in September.
Pictured, above: Ó Ríordáin with Irish drag icon