The National LGBT Federation (NXF) has called for a complete deletion of Section 37(1), not merely an amendment, to the Employment Equality Act, which currently allows religious-run organisations to dismiss employees based on sexual orientation.
While acknowledging the good intentions and support of those proposing an amendment to the legislation, the NXF has stated that it “stands in solidarity” with LGBT employees in schools and hospitals in insisting that there can be no ‘opt-out’ of discrimination and joins their call for a complete deletion of the section.
Olivia McEvoy, Chair of the NXF, stated, “As 95% of schools are run by religious bodies, this is the principle source of employment for Irish teachers. LGBT teachers should no longer be forced to live closeted lives where they fear for their jobs due to the ‘chill factor’ resulting from the presence of Section 37(1). They are often left with no option but to lie about their personal lives and disengage from their colleagues in order to remain private and anonymous, and crucially are not in a position to be positive role models in a country where homophobic and transphobic bullying is rife in schools.
“The United Nations Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon asserted that ‘religious and/or cultural beliefs provide no justification for discriminating against people on the basis of their sexual orientation’,” she continued. “A more open and vibrant Irish LGBT community now exists, yet a section of our population is limited from being able to participate fully in these hugely positive societal developments as a result of Section 37(1). It is not acceptable for anyone living in Ireland in 2014 to be forced to choose between who they are and where they work.”
McEvoy concluded, “The National LGBT Federation stands shoulder to shoulder with our LGBT colleagues in schools and hospitals and call for the Government to urgently repeal Section 37(1) of the Employment Equality Act and confine this discriminatory legislation to the corridors or history once and for all.”
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