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Ireland to end exemptions which allow religious institutions to discriminate against gay teachers, healthcare workers

Ireland to end exemptions which allow religious institutions to discriminate against gay teachers, healthcare workers

Religious-run institutions in Ireland including schools and hospitals will no longer be allowed to discriminate against gay teachers and other employees on the basis of their sexual orientation.

Section 37 of the Employment Equality Act currently exempts religious institutions including schools and hospitals allowing them to ‘take action’ against employees who undermine the organisations religious ethos.

Under the amended bill, religious-run institutions must now cite specific instances the employee has already done which would damage that ethos.

Equality minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin this week confirmed plans to end LGBT discrimination in religious-run schools and hospitals after first announcing his plan to do so in January.

Speaking as marriage equality came into force in Ireland, he said in a Twitter post: ‘As marriage equality becomes a reality today, on Wednesday we amend [Section 37] to end LGBT and other discrimination in schools and hospitals.’

‘The aim is to raise the bar, so that religious run schools and hospitals will have to show real damage to their ethos, are precluded from discrimination on any of the other equality grounds and that any action taken is reasonable and proportionate,’ he was quoted as saying by Breakingnews.ie.

LGBT groups have been campaigning to remove the right of religious organisations to discriminate against its LGBT employees for over a decade since the exemption was made as a concession to the church when the Act came into effect in 1998.