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The Government has accepted a recommendation made at a UN meeting last week to make contraceptive information “available and accessible” to “boys, girls and adolescents”.
It has also said it will consider changing the constitutional definition of the family and amending Section 37 of the Employment Equality Act which protects the rights of religious employers.
A report published yesterday by the UN Human Rights Council in the wake of Ireland's appearance before that body in Geneva last week listed the recommendations made by the delegates of various countries to Ireland. The report showed which recommendations Ireland accepted, which ones they were prepared to look at, and which recommendations they rejected.
The report says that Ireland has accepted a recommendation by the Mexican delegation to “Ensure the national availability and accessibility to contraceptive services and methods including through the dissemination of information and education to boys, girls and adolescents taking into account prevention of discrimination based on geographic (sic), status, disability or migrant status”.
The Government has also agreed to consider recommendations to “Deepen the Reform of the law on same-sex marriage and change the concept of traditional family as enshrined in the Constitution”, and to “amend Article (sic) 37 of the Employment Equality Act in order to prevent...discrimination against homosexual and unmarried parents”.
Section 37 allows religious institutions, such as schools or hospitals, to refuse to hire in accordance with their ethos.
Switzerland recommended that Ireland amend Section 37. Spain recommended that Ireland change the Constitutional definition of the traditional family.
The Government also said it would consider a recommendation by Uruguay to explicitly prohibit “any form of corporal punishment in the family”.
The Government rejected recommendations made by a number of countries to legalise abortion.
Responding to the report, the Director of The Iona Institute, David Quinn, said that it showed “the ideological bias of another UN body charged with monitoring Ireland’s implementation of human rights treaties.”
He said: “Nothing in the UN human rights documents we have signed justifies demands that Ireland legalise abortion, change the constitutional definition of the family, or weaken the right of religious organisations to hire staff who will reflect their ethos.”
He continued: “While the Government has rejected the draft report’s recommendations regarding abortion, we note with concern that the Government has not rejected out of hand the recommendations made with regard to the family, or the rights of religious employers.”
He concluded: “We hope that when the Government does respond to these recommendations next year it will defend and uphold the constitutional definition of the family and marriage and will defend Article 37 of the Employment Equality Act that has already been upheld by our Supreme Court because it is necessary to religious freedom”.