Fresh off of the country’s first same-sex weddings, Ireland’s government is pushing forward with more changes – amending LGBT equality law exemptions for schools and hospitals.
The Republic of Ireland approved same-sex marriage in a landslide referendum earlier this year, by 62.07% to 37.93% – and overcoming bureaucratic hurdles, the green light has been given for weddings to start this afternoon.
However, the country’s equality minister has signalled that the measure won’t be the last in the country’s slate of reforms – following a radical new gender recognition law and adoption reforms brought in this year.
Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, the Minister of State for Equality, confirmed plans to push ahead with a bill this week that will alter the state’s Employment Equality Act.
Section 37 of the existing law grants specific exemptions from sections protecting LGBT people to “religious, educational or medical institutions” – permitting them to discriminate “in order to maintain the religious ethos of the institution”.
However, the TD pledged: “As marriage equality becomes a reality today, on Wednesday we amend Section 37 to end LGBT & other discrimination in schools & hospitals.”
He told Newstalk: “Marriage equality was a wonderful achievement, and Ireland should be very proud of being the first country to bring in marriage equality by popular vote.
“But if you’re 13 years of age, and you’re just coming out and you’re nervous, marriage equality might feel a very long way away.
“We still have issues of homophobia in Ireland – I don’t think we’re unique in that respect – but the things we’re doing this week will go a long way to addressing that.”
The minister added that he is in early discussions with LGBT groups, aiming to set up a new LGBT strategy to look at the areas of employment, education and health.