MaltaToday - Curia asks MUT for names of schools in gay teachers row
NEWS | Sunday, 22 July 2007

Curia asks MUT for names of schools in gay teachers row

Matthew Vella

The Archbishop’s delegate for Church schools, Fr Dominic Scerri, has written to teachers’ union president John Bencini for the names of Church schools which allegedly threatened to sack gay teachers.
Last Wednesday, MaltaToday Midweek reported that the Malta Union of Teachers had to intervene to stop the termination of employment of four gay teachers from Church schools over the past five years.
Fr Scerri told this newspaper no such report had ever passed in his hands over an alleged termination of employment of gay teachers.
“I have asked for the names of these schools to see to the matter myself,” Scerri said. “We have no form of policy on teachers and their sexual orientation. We don’t interfere in their private lives. We only demand that they be aware that they are teaching in a Catholic school and that their behaviour is, as required, appropriate.”
Refraining from mentioning the schools involved, John Bencini claimed the Church schools were subjected to pressures from parents of children attending these schools.
In one particular case the teacher involved was also subjected to insults written on the blackboard by his students.
In all cases reported to the MUT, the employment of the teachers involved was ultimately safeguarded.
In such cases the MUT strictly adheres to guidelines issued by the European Trade Union Committee on Education (ETUCE) which clearly state that as long as the teachers involved perform their professional duties their sexual orientation and private life should not be a factor in their employment.
“As long as these teachers do not try to influence students by their beliefs or lifestyles, their sexuality is a private matter,” Bencini said.
Bencini also mentioned a case where a particular church school wanted to get rid of a female teacher simply because she had married a Muslim. Even in this case the MUT had to intervene to save this teacher’s job.
Bencini recognised that Church schools who want to retain their Catholic ethos could have problems with teachers who openly flaunt their sexual orientation. “Whether gay teachers in church schools should declare their orientation to their students is bound to provoke an ethical discussion. But ultimately as a union we have to ensure that the employment of these teachers is safeguarded.”
Workers are protected by a 2004 legal notice which banned discrimination based on sexual orientation – a late addition to the Employment Relations Act after the Malta Gay Rights Movement lobbied for the inclusion of sexual orientation in the law with then social policy minister Lawrence Gonzi.

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