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The Irish Civil Service – some lgb staff experiences

January 24th, 2010 · 9 Comments · Equality, LGBT

The Public Sector Executive Union recently conducted research amongst members regarding their experiences in the workplace of lgbt issues.  (Sunday Tribune article) The survey was aimed at lgbt members but other members also completed it. The initiative was led by the Union President Fiona Lee and Deputy General Secretary Billy Hannigan and funded by EU funding under an EU challenge fund. The response rate was low at 165 but has been pointed to as indicative of a culture withing the service of reluctance to discuss the issues.

I’ve located the results on the PSEU website

42% of respondents indicated that they had experienced discrimination and 32% had been verbally abused. No respondent had accessed the assistance of the Equality Authority or a solicitor in addressing the discrimination.  When asked what their employer could do to improve the situation, many wanted increased dsicusion and visibilty on lgbt issues, but the majority wanted the same entitlements as everybody else.

It is the one thing I’ve heard over and over again from people I’ve spoken to who are civil servants: the forced payments into spouses and children’s funds and no payouts to the ‘spouses’ and children of lgbt employees. This situation will change upon the enactment of the Civil Partnership legislation but it has long been a bugbear and non biological children will be excluded from the new scheme given there is no recognition in the legislation.

Respondents were asked to describe negative experiences they had because they were lgbt or perceived to be lgbt. There were 35 responses   (Page 10 &11) including:

My line manager went on a tirade, comparing gay people to paedophiles. It was extremely upsetting, and no action was taken despite bringing it to the attention of a more senior manager.
The view was that the manager in question had strong religious beliefs, and rather than discipline him, we should be more careful in what we discuss. The implication was that the responsibility was on the staff to “not upset” the line manager in question. I was not comfortable in telling the senior manager that I am LGBT, based on that response.

Another said

My immediate superior in my previous Dept told me that gay people were animals and they had no right to life, let alone any other rights.

Another reply

Jeering of LGBT staff. Crude jokes about LGBT people by Line Managers, as supposed humour. Slagging of people, if they are successful and unmarried comments that they must be gay or lesbian, and all they need are ……..(decent prohibits me from continuing)

The overall impression from reading the results and responses  is that people just want to be treated the same as everyone else, not have to watch what they say and receive support from colleagues and management should they need to not only in action but also in atmosphere.  The majority don’t believe sexual orientation has any impact on promotion or other opportunities which is positive to hear, however there is a lack of knowledge of equality policies in the workplace.

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