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Council backs gay mayor's attack on 'repugnant' opt-out

SOUTH Dublin County Council has called for an end to the legal opt-out from equality legislation for religious-run schools.

Councillors voted to pass a motion tabled by the authority's gay mayor, Sinn Fein's Fintan Warfield, who described the opt-out as "repugnant".

He said the "basic human right" of people to live their lives openly and without fear was being denied to LGBT teachers and employees of institutions with a religious ethos.

He said the Employment Equality Act 1998 provided these institutions with an opt-out, but noted that the Government had committed to amending the legislation.

His motion called for this to be done as a matter of urgency, and before next spring's marriage equality referendum "so that no LGBT person has to choose between their job on the one hand and making a public life-long commitment to their loved one on the other".

Mr Warfield said the right of employers to select candidates on the basis of a genuine occupational requirement was already enshrined in other provisions of the Employment Equality Act.


The opt-out was "both unnecessary and repugnant to the principles of equality and non-discrimination", he said, adding that it was also in conflict with EU framework directive law.

"This state-sanctioned discrimination creates an unacceptable chill factor for teachers in particular who happen to be LGBT," the motion stated.

Independent councillor Francis Timmons said research suggested that many LGBT teachers did not apply for senior roles and avoided teaching religion and sex education in schools.

"We are long past the time when sexual orientation was seen to have any bearing on the type of human being you are or the type of colleague you are," said Labour's Mick Duff.

A council spokesperson said the terms of the motion would be forwarded to the relevant minister of state, Aodhan O Riordain.