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  • Thanks to Legal Island for bringing this to my attention.

    The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission designate has advised the Minister for Justice and Equality of the outcomes of its deliberations of Section 37 of the Employment Equality Acts.


    Equality and Human Rights Commission

    Section 37(1)(a) of the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2011 permits positive discrimination in certain circumstances by allowing more favourable treatment of employees or prospective employees on the religion ground in religious, educational or medical institutions. The designate body looked at various options for the amendment to this section but endorsed their fourth suggestion, this option asked for an amendment to Section 37 in various ways.

    Catholic Schools

    Catholic School

    The paper overall is an excellent distillation of international jurisdictions in this area – how do countries balance the religious beliefs of some organisations with the rights of individuals not to be discriminated against just because they have a social characteristic with which the religious ethos of the organisation is in conflict? It goes on at paragraph 46 to put forward the designate body’s recommendation for a compromise in Ireland, in a way which balances our constitution and anti-discrimination laws:

    We are of the view that the wording of section 37(1) should therefore include the following elements to strike a balance between individual rights and religious freedoms:

    Religious Prayer

    Rosary Beads

    Discrimination on grounds of religion or belief would be permissible by an institution (being an educational, medical or religious organisation) with an ethos founded on religion or belief where adherence to a particular religious belief is a genuine, legitimate and justified occupational requirement. This would allow for example that a mosque could legitimately require an Imam be Muslim. It could also be permissible for the Chief Executive of a Christian charity to be of a particular religion depending on the duties of the position. It would also be arguably lawful for a school to promote a teacher to a position involving the espousing of religious belief (such as a school chaplain) on the basis of the religious belief of that individual even where there is a candidate of a different religious belief with greater experience and qualifications for the position but would not necessarily permit the same approach to a teacher of a subject with no religious dimension...”

    For more information see the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (Equality Authority) website.