The Irish Equality Authority has accused the Irish Government of hypocrisy over its commitment to gay rights after claims it is refusing to change laws that discriminate against gay teachers.

The 1998 Employment Equality Act gives religious schools an exemption over discrimination law if employing someone will in it’s view undermine the school’s religious ethos. More than ninety per cent of teachers are employed by Catholic and other religious schools.

Niall Crowley, Chief Executive of the Irish Equality Authority told the Irish Examiner: “We already know that it’s a strong dissuasive influence on gay and lesbian people from taking cases and, therefore, whether or not they’re raising the issue, it must be changed.”

“The Programme for Government makes a commitment to rights for same sex couples but that commitment means nothing for people who work in schools or other religious institutions.”

Mr Crowley claims that the government needs only to pass an amendment to the Act in order to prevent discrimination.

The Lesbian Gay and Bisexual Teachers group said: “The law copper-fastens discrimination but it could equally affect teachers who are divorced or who are not married but living with a partner because their lifestyle could be in conflict with the church’s teaching.”