Schools and hospitals would no longer be allowed to discriminate against gay, lesbian and bisexual staff under legislation to be tabled by Fianna Fáil Senator Averil Power in the Seanad today.

According to Senator Power, “As the law currently stands, a school or hospital could claim that hiring a gay teacher, doctor or nurse would undermine their religious ethos.  Such discrimination is specifically permitted under Section 37 of the Employment Equality Act.

“The Gay and Lesbian Equality Network, the teacher unions and Gay Doctors Ireland have all highlighted how this legislation has been a source of fear and anxiety for LGBT people,” she said.

Fianna Fáil is tabling legislation in the Seanad today to change this situation.

“If the Bill is enacted, schools and hospitals will still be entitled to insist that staff members demonstrate respect towards their ethos and not actively seek to undermine it. However, they will not be permitted to treat staff or potential staff differently simply because of their sexual orientation or marital/civil status. In addition to protecting LGBT staff, the Bill would also prevent discrimination against teachers who are separated, divorced or unmarried with children,” she said.

Highlighting the fact that Fine Gael and Labour committed in their Programme for Government to addressing this issue, Senator Power said that she is hopeful that the bill will secure all-party support in the Seanad. “It is important that all parties cooperate to end this unjust discrimination as soon as possible,” she concluded.