The TUC says it’s worried by the fear of gay teachers being sacked at Catholic Schools for entering into same-sex marriages.
In January, England’s most senior Roman Catholic, the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, said that teachers in Catholic schools should not marry divorcees, marry in registry offices or in other civil ceremonies (such as civil partnerships) that do not meet the Catholic Church’s approval.
The Department of Education replied by saying: “Faith schools can consider whether a person’s conduct is in line with their religious values when dismissing teachers. However, schools must also comply with employment law.”
The Catholic Church remains vociferously opposed to equal marriage.
In response, the TUC highlighted its concern over teachers facing possible homophobic discrimination in a written submission to a committee of MPs who are currently scrutinising the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill for England and Wales.
It said: “the position of staff in Catholic faith schools who wish to enter into same-sex marriages appears to be under threat following news that the Department for Education has declared that ‘faith schools can consider whether a person’s conduct is in line with their religious views when dismissing teachers’”.
In its submission the TUC said: “The stated position of that Church has always been clear on this (covering divorcees and registry office weddings), but there is case law suggesting that the current exemptions to the Equality Act do not extend so far as to allow this discrimination.”
It added: “The fact of this being the Department for Education’s response is alarming and sends out unacceptable signals that justify the TUC’s fears expressed in this submission that the proposed exemptions and the way they are being presented will lead to the worsening of the position for staff who wish to promote equality in schools, and for all the pupils (not just those growing up LGB or T) where prejudiced views are dominant.”