Call to clarify when schools can refuse students on the basis of religion

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The country’s human rights watchdog has told the government that Ireland’s equality laws need urgent reform, including more protection for caregivers and clarity on when Private elementary schools and all secondary schools can refuse to admit a student on the basis of religion.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) has issued a series of recommendations to Equality Minister Roderic O’Gorman, as part of the review of existing laws.

The IHREC brief makes a total of 60 recommendations, in particular relating to access to justice and the impossibility of contesting certain exemptions. One of them is the role of religion in entering school.

According to IHREC: “Private elementary schools and all secondary schools can currently refuse to admit a student on the basis of religion when:” it is proven that the refusal is essential to maintain the ethics of the school ” . Clarity is needed in the law on the definition of “ethos”, and precisely what would be needed to establish that such a denial was “essential” to the ethics of the school. “

Other key recommendations include the need for caregivers to be explicitly protected from accessing employment or services because of their responsibilities, and that domestic workers should be defined as employees and protected by labor laws. equality in employment.

According to the IHREC submission: “The Commission has already made recommendations to overhaul state policy to ensure that care work is adequately supported, publicly valued and equitably shared. The Commission is of the opinion that the current definition of the ground of ‘family status’ does not go far enough to capture and protect the full range of family responsibilities present in modern Irish society.

Reconciling work and family life

“Many people can now take care of older relatives or people who do not live under the same roof as them. The fact remains that care remains a highly gendered aspect of Irish society and this may have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said that women are much more likely than men to be engaged in caregiving duties and that this “often has to be juggled with work responsibilities and women are overrepresented among employees with reduced hours.

Ireland has the third highest rate of unpaid work for men and women, and the gender gap is one of the largest among Member States.

Therefore, gaps in the protection offered by laws have a particular impact on women and serve to perpetuate gender inequality in the labor market. “

He also said: “The exclusion of domestic workers from the definition of employee is a de facto exemption for employers in recruitment and processing, and disproportionately affects women and migrant women.”

Chief Commissioner Sinéad Gibney said: “The next generation of equality legislation must tackle all emerging and cumulative forms of discrimination, comply with European and international legal frameworks, ensure rights awareness, demand disaggregated data and address existing procedural and accessibility issues affecting access to justice.


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