Landmark Equality Bill passing Seanad an ‘important milestone’

10 Jul 2015

A Bill has passed through Report Stage in the Seanad, which the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) claims provides “a critical springboard” for a necessary culture change in Ireland.

The Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2015, which will now head towards the Dáil, amends certain employment equality legislation pertaining to institutions at least partly funded by the state.

If passed through the Dáil, the Bill will give greater legal protection against discrimination to LGBT teachers, which means they can be open about their sexual orientation without fearing professional reprisals.

The Seanad result has caused delight at GLEN.

“Today marks a very important milestone in reaching the day when LGBT employees of religious, medical and educational institutions no longer need to hide their sexual orientation, gender identity, civil or family status,” said Kieran Rose, GLEN co-chair.

“The Bill, when it completes its passage through the Dáil, will give much greater legal confidence to LGBT people working in religious-run employments that are funded by the tax payer, to live openly and enjoy the same employment protections as their co-workers,” continued Rose.

It is hoped that the Bill, when discussed in the Dáil, can be further strengthened to branch out away from public, or semi-public, institutions and into the private sphere.

While it affects all institutions that are at least partly funded “by monies provided by the Oireachtas”, it primarily relates to the teaching profession.

Indeed, upon the announcement that the Bill passed through its reporting stage, Sheila Nunan, general secretary of INTO – the largest teachers’ union in Ireland – was emphatic in her support.

“It is a victory for all teachers in our classrooms throughout the country,” she said. “This is the culmination of the hard work our members of the LGBT Teachers’ Group have done over many years.”

Meanwhile, GLEN notably name-checked TD Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, as well as Senators Ivana Bacik, Averil Power, Katherine Zappone and Jillian Van Turnhout, for their help getting the Bill this far.

Main image, via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt
By Gordon Hunt

Gordon Hunt joined Silicon Republic in October 2014 as a journalist. He spends most of his time avoiding conversations about music, appreciating even the least creative pun and rueing the day he panicked when meeting Paul McGrath. His favourite thing on the internet is the ‘Random Article’ link on Wikipedia.

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