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Act Two: Ireland Moves to End Employment Discrimination in Schools and Hospitals

Act Two: Ireland Moves to End Employment Discrimination in Schools and Hospitals

An amendment is being drafted to Ireland's Employment Equality Act, now the law across the republic, to protect current and future LGBT employees of hospitals and schools in Ireland.

The draft will be sent to the two-chamber Irish legislature, the "Oireachtas," consisting of the Dáil and the Seanad, which still has to ratifiy the recently-passed referendum allowing same-sex marriage, according to the Irish Times.

Tánaiste Joan Burton said legislation would be brought before the Seanad and Dáil as early as possible, with the aim of getting it passed before the summer recess.

“That would mean that we would be in a position to have same-sex marriage celebrations, civil ceremonies by, probably, September,” she told reporters last week.

Minister of State for Equality Aodhán Ó Ríordáin promised his offices are "working hard" to ensure the measure is enacted before the new school year begins in September. However, so-called religious exemptions, which detractors say amount to a right to discriminate against gender and sexual minorities, will remain.  

According to the Irish Times, a number of attendees at a recent Irish National Teachers’ Organization stepped out of a photo with pro-equality Irish President Michael D Higgins, "...because they were worried at being identified as gay teachers. They fear it would impact on their employment prospects or felt it might go against them in their workplace."

The equality minister was circumspect about the incident.

“So while we rightly celebrate marriage equality, there is still some uncertainty and a certain chill factor with gay and lesbian people, especially in schools,” Ó Ríordáin told the Irish Times.

Workers in other professions have had legal protections from discrimination since the 1990s.  

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