Today the Dail will vote on the Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, which will protect Catholic LGBT teachers at the expense of reinforcing the right to discriminate against atheist and minority faith teachers of any sexuality.
Following a meeting last week with Atheist Ireland, Ruth Coppinger, Paul Murphy and Joe Higgins of the Socialist Party/AAA will be proposing amendments that reflect all four aspects of Atheist Ireland’s Schools Equality PACT.
These amendments recognise the need to tackle all four PACT areas (Patronage, Access, Curriculum and Teaching) together, rather than focusing on any of the areas while neglecting the others.
They also incorporate recent recommendations of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, which Atheist Ireland supports, on the need to establish minimum standards in relation to the nature of opt-outs, and the need to deliver the State-prescribed curriculum in an objective, critical and pluralistic manner that avoids indoctrination.
Please contact your TDs today and ask them to support these amendments.
Amendment 5 (Pages 6 and 7)
This amendment tackles the core function of this Bill, which is to amend Section 37 of the Employment Equality Act.
This amendment would limit the right of religious organisations to discriminate against employees on the ground of religion, to situations where the religion or belief of the employee constitutes a justified occupational requirement. It would delete the Government’s Amendment of Section 37 and replace it with
(a) A religious organisation shall not be taken to discriminate against a person for the purposes of this Part or Part II by giving favourable treatment on the religion ground to an employee or a prospective employee where the religion or belief of the employee constitutes a justified occupational requirement.
(b) No religious organisation, or body under the direction or control of a religious organisation, may give less favourable treatment on gender, marital status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, traveller community, disability grounds or the ground of race to employees or prospective employees in services it operates including educational or medical institutions.
Amendment 8 (Page 8)
Rosin Shortall is also proposing a similar amendment to this. These two amendments build on the provisions in the Bill to Amend Section 7 of the Equal Status Act, by adding a proposal to delete Section 7(3)(c) of the Act. That is the Section that allows religious schools to discriminate in admissions on the ground of religion.
Amendment 9 (Page 9)
This amendment builds on the interrelationship of the Education Act and the Employment Equality Act and Equal Status Act in maintaining religious discrimination in Irish schools. Section (4) incorporates recent recommendations of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.
(1) Section 2 of the Education Act 1998 shall be amended by deletion of “ “characteristic spirit” means the characteristic spirit referred to in section 15(2)(b);”.
(2) Section 9(d) of the Education Act 1998 shall be amended by—
(a) the deletion of “spiritual”, and
(b) the substitution of “characteristic spirit of the school” with “constitutional and human rights of all persons concerned”.
(3) Section 15 of the Education Act 1998 shall be amended by—
(a) in subsection (2)(b) deletion of “uphold, and be accountable to the patron for so upholding, the characteristic spirit of the school as determined by the cultural, educational, moral, religious, social, linguistic and spiritual values and traditions which inform and are characteristic of the objectives and conduct of the school, and”, and
(b) in subsection (2)(d) deletion of “the characteristic spirit of the school and”.
(4) Section 30 of the Education Act 1998 shall be amended by—
(a) the deletion of subsection (2)(b)
(b) the deletion of subsection (2)(d)
(c) in subsection (2)(e) to insert the following— “and shall establish minimum standards in relation to the nature of exemptions for students who do not want to attend such classes in accordance with parental choice, or their own choice in cases of students aged 18 years of age or over, having regard to the constitutional and human rights of all persons concerned,”
(d) to insert a new subsection (2)(f) as follows—
“(f) shall require all schools to provide knowledge and information in the State-prescribed curriculum in an objective, critical and pluralistic manner that avoids indoctrination, outside of the specific context of religious instruction and faith formation classes where exemptions apply.”