Malta’s Union of Teachers is threatening to publish the details of four attempts to oust gay and lesbian teachers from Roman Catholic school posts, unless the government launches an independent inquiry into sexual orientation discrimination.

According to the union, Church schools were under pressure from parents to fire the teachers, leading to four interventions in the past five years.

Students even scrawled insults on one teacher’s chalkboard, according to John Bencini, President of the union.

“As long as these teachers do not try to influence students with their beliefs or lifestyles, their sexuality is a private matter,” said Mr Bencini, speaking to Malta Today.

“We have to ensure that the employment of these teachers is safeguarded.”

In 2004, Malta banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation after the Malta Gay Rights Movement lobbied for the measure to be included in an Employment Relations Act.

Malta is one of the most socially conservative countries in the EU.

98% of the population are Roman Catholics, and although homosexuality has been decriminalised, significant prejudice remains.

In 2000 the government were criticised by gay rights groups for openly homophobic statements criticising EU proposals for gay equality.