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  • Senator Sharon Keogan

Senator Sharon Keogan — Protecting the Right to Conscientious Objection

https://youtu.be/q0qu6CfTY3Q

I call for a debate in this Chamber with the Minister for Justice on protecting the rights of conscientious objectors in both the public and private sectors. Increasingly, we see people forced to embrace values with which they do not agree. A new policy entitled Gender Identity in the Workplace is mandatory for all members of An Garda Síochána. It states that refusing to acknowledge a person's gender pronouns or new name will constitute discrimination under the Employment Equality Act 1998 and the Equality Status Act 2000. While it is important we treat everyone in the workplace with dignity and respect, how are the rights of staff with religious viewpoints that clash with transgender views being reconciled here? People of different religious and ideological viewpoints have expressed concern about aspects of this policy to journalists. We need to consider this.

Another concerning fact about the document is that it conflates gender and biological sex. One can argue that gender is socially constructed, but the perspective expressed in this document is that sex and gender are equivalent. That is in opposition to what most transgender activists believe. It is a fringe view. Trans people would not seek sex change operations if sex were not real, nor would they request hormones or puberty blockers. It is a biological fact that humans are a sexually dimorphic species.

On a side note, who is influencing policy and legislation in this area? That is a question for another Order of Business debate.

In Ireland conscientious objection has often been associated with medical practitioners wishing to opt out of performing abortions or providing contraception, but having an internally consistent view on this issue is of relevance for people of all political views and religions or of no religion to consider.

In decades to come many viewpoints that are part of the consensus today will be considered unusual and immoral. That is the problem with culturally relative viewpoints. In recent years there has been a much greater intolerance for dissenting viewpoints, and the desire of censorship has become far too common. In that regard, for some politicians and activists there has been an à la carte approach...


I will conclude by saying that it would be great if the Minister for Justice were prepared to show that the Government cares about protecting the rights of dissidents. I hope we can discuss this issue in more depth in this Chamber.


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