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Man loses case against Irish council's refusal to hold ceremony for Christians killed by IS

The man had claimed the council was discriminating against him on religious grounds by refusing to hold a wreath-laying ceremony.

A MAN HAS lost his discrimination action against a local authority here over its refusal to stage a wreath laying ceremony to mark the deaths of Christians murdered by IS.

In the case, the Roman Catholic man took the discrimination action on religious grounds against the un-named local authority to stage the event which also comprised of a flag raising ceremony for Pope Benedict.

The man submitted the request after the Council staged a flag-raising and wreath-laying ceremony in the summer of 2016 to celebrate Gay Pride and commemorate the members of the LGBTQ community murdered in an Orlando nightclub.

In the attack at Pulse gay night-club in Orlando, a security guard murdered 49 people in June 2016.

As part of his request, the man said that he wanted the ceremony celebrating Pope Francis to also commemorate the massacre of Christians in the Middle East and the murder of a priest in France by the so-called Islamic State (IS).

Following the council’s refusal, the man alleged that he was treated less favourably in similar circumstances than the LGBTQ community because of his religious beliefs.

In his ruling, WRC Adjudication Officer Roger McGrath stated that the man failed to adduce any evidence to demonstrate that he has been treated less favourably than another religious group.

He stated:“Rather, the complaint has compared his position as a Roman Catholic to that of members of the LGBTQ community.

He has erred in doing so: the LGBTQ community does not constitute a religion – it is a social group that may/can consist of many different religions.

In its submission, the local authority refuted any allegation of discrimination made against it and submitted that such allegations “are unfounded, misconceived and lacking in factual foundation”.

The council stated that the complainant had been treated no differently than any other person of any other religion.

The council contended that the complainant presented no evidence to indicate that he has been treated any differently to persons of other religious affiliations or is at a disadvantage to such persons.

Providing the background, the council submitted that on 20 June 2016 it received an email from the Local Government Management Agency, the body responsible for co-ordinating the delivery of local government services, which set out details of a nationwide campaign amongst local authorities to coincide with the first annual LGBTQ Pride festival.

In addition to setting out details of the national campaign, which included the raising of the rainbow flag on behalf of the LGBT Community, the email also set out the details for the laying of a wreath in memory of the victims of the Orlando massacre.

The council confirmed that it received an email from the complainant on 15 July 2016 requesting that the council stage the wreath-laying ceremony for the Christian victims of IS.

In response, the council told the man that the LGBTQ ceremony was an initiative of the Local Government Management Association and was agreed at a national level; that the Irish Government required the Irish flag to be flown at half-mast to mark respect for the victims of the Orlando tragedy and that the council had a duty to support marginalised groups such as the LGBTQ community.

The council also told the man that the local authority “is non-denominational and that it does not support any specific religion within the community.

In addition, the council pointed out that the LGBTQ community has no specific location which represents its community whilst the complainant could go to the church, which is a more appropriate body/location to exercise his wishes.

The council also stated that it is a non-denominational body and that they never refer to anyone’s religious denomination when they look for a service.

The council also submitted that the complainant failed to establish a prima facie case of discrimination on the ground of religion, that his case is misconceived and based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the Act.

The council stated that the complainant failed to establish an evidential basis to support the complaint made and, as such, the complaint made should be dismissed.

Read: Sentencing adjourned in Tinder sexual assault case over guilty man’s previous convictions

Read: ‘Our lives have been shattered forever’: Man sentenced for manslaughter of schoolboy in 2015

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