UN to raise secular rights with Ireland

The UN Human Rights Committee has raised the Irish education system and religious oaths in its List of Issues under the UN Convention on Civil and Political Rights. They raised the right to freedom of religion and belief in the Irish Education system.

Atheist Ireland had made a Submission to the UN about these issues which you can find here.

The List of Issues in relation to Ireland was published by the UN this week. The Human Rights Committee is asking Ireland about the right to freedom of religion and belief of those who seek secular schools for their children, the right to be free from religious discrimination in the education system, and the right to take public office without swearing a religious oath.

The UN has also raised the rights of teachers and asked if Section 37.1 of the Employment Equality Act will be amended.

The UN List of Issues states:

“Freedom of conscience and religious belief (arts. 2, 18 and 26) 20. Please report on the measures taken to ensure that the right to freedom of conscience and religious belief is fully respected, in law and in practice, on a non-discriminatory basis.

In this regard, and bearing in mind the previous recommendation of the Committee in this regard (CCPR/C/IRL/CO/4, para.21), please

(a) provide information about the implementation of the Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018, as well as whether progress has been made in the implementation of other measures recommended by the Committee to improve access to secular schools;

(b) provide information about whether there have been any changes to the constitutional provisions requiring those who take up certain senior public positions to take religious oaths; and

(c) whether amendments have been made to section 37 (1) of the Employment Equality Act to bar any discrimination in employment in the fields of health and education.”

“Non-discrimination(arts. 2, 3, 14, 20, 23, 26 and 27) 7. Recalling the previous recommendations of the Committee (CCPR/C/IRL/CO/4, para.23), please indicate the legislative and other measures taken within the reporting period to combat laws and social practices which are discriminatory on the basis of sex, Roma and Traveller status, race, sexual orientation, religion, disability and/or nationality status.

Please include information about

(a) how the effective application of the Equal Status Act is ensured, including a summary of complaints under this legislation during the reporting period and their outcomes;

(b) the outcomes of equality related strategies, such as the National Traveller and Roma Integration Strategy 2017-2021, the LGBTI+ National Youth Strategy 2018–2020 and the Migrant Integration Strategy 2017-2020., as well as when the National LGBTI+ Inclusion Strategy will be in place;

(c) any measures taken by the State party to ensure that the COVID-19 pandemic does not exacerbate inequality, discrimination and exclusion, including amongst older persons, women, people living in poverty, persons with disabilities and homelessness people.”

Atheist Ireland will continue to challenge the state regarding the right to freedom of religion and belief of atheists, secularists and the non-religious.

We will also challenge religious discrimination in the education system and support the right of minorities to access the teaching profession by campaigning to remove Section 37 of our Employment laws.

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