Friday, May 26, 2006

Wrapping up the conference blogging

Ooops the live blogging sort of stopped when the questions and answers session began. Apologies but that’s when it got a bit more interesting.

Several people in the audience took the opportunity to address the chairperson of the working group, Anne Colley and ask her questions about the way the group works, if they could make submissions and if the group would be gender proofing its work. (That was me with the last one!)

Anne Colley had not thought about gender proofing and thought that it would happen – especially as the Equality Authority were there!

It’s really clear from this that the working group members think that men and women are the same and that the proposed legislation will affect us equally. Sorry but many laws don’t affect men and women equally – and gender proofing is required of all areas of government policy – including this one. Indeed if there is no recognition that we have different roles due to our gender, identity, culture and reality then lesbians will again lose out.

One very interesting point to note was the one made by a lesbian teacher. She pointed to the fact that if she did register her partnership that she would be setting herself up for a problem with her employers as the Employment Equality Act gives religious bodies (who control 90% of the schools) an opt out to applying equality in their workplaces. One other delegate did point out that nobody can be sacked for being gay or lesbian – but as lesbian and gay teachers are more than aware your life can be made intolerable if your workplace does not support you. How will lesbian and gay teachers be able to have themselves protected in terms of their relationships and their right to work?

Little did I think when I began live blogging this morning that I would witness the Ancient Order of Hibernians (did we know they were in Ireland before this) abusing the Minister for Justice with water, copies of the constitution and shouting.

I learnt a lot about the way the UK Civil Partnerships Legislation works in the UK, how the Spanish LGBT movement accepted nothing less than equality. I observed two other international legal experts speaking so eloquently about partnership legislation and how it should be tackled in the Irish system because we have the chance to get it right the first time.

It was well worth attending but could have been a lot more participative, especially if this is the only consultation that the working group are going to do with the population that their decisions will be affecting.


At 12:47, Anonymous tipster said...

could have been a lot more participative, especially if this is the only consultation that the working group are going to do

From the way it was organised (the packs, the staff, the slightly dodgy powerpoint slide behind L'Heureux Dube , etc.) it looks like it was an Equality Authority conference with the working group tacked on.

(And I am told that the working group seems to have got off to a bad start by breaching givernment guidelines on consultation, in that the advert did not give people and organisations enough time between advertisement and the closing date.)


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