Commissioner hopes Brexit will not hurt human rights in Ireland

Emily Logan says 2015 was a landmark year for LGBT people

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, annual report, Emily Logan, Brexit, LGBT, Ireland,

Emily Logan in Dublin City Hall during the launch of the Irish Human Rights Commission's first strategy statement | Image: RollingNews.ie

The head of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission says she hopes a British exit from the EU will not have negative consequences for human rights.

It comes as the commission's annual report showed there were more than 2,100 public queries made last year.

It also found there are 45 ongoing legal assistance cases and five amicus curiae cases in Superior Courts, as well as 14 UN and international committee engagements.

This is the first annual report to be submitted before the Houses of the Oireachtas since it was established as an independent public body in 2014.

Chief Commissioner Emily Logan stressed the significance of the collaboration of the two human rights bodies here - the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.

"In any proposed arrangements post-Brexit, it is important to ensure coherence of protections of human rights and equality North and South of the border," Ms Logan said.

"The Commission believes that the outcome of the referendum in Britain should not have negative consequences for the uniformity of human rights standards across the island of Ireland."

"Any future legislative proposals should not undermine the commitments contained in the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement," she added.

'Landmark' year for rights of LGBT people

Amongst current priorities, Ms Logan underlined the Commission's ongoing concerns about the right of asylum seekers to protections under international human rights law, and reforms to the system of direct provision.

Ms Logan also noted that 2015 represented a landmark year for the advancement of rights of LGBT people.

The commission's own national survey of attitudes conducted before and after the marriage equality referendum indicated how the public debate shaped perceptions of human rights and equality in a positive way, particularly among younger people.

"The marriage equality referendum in 2015 represented a ground-breaking moment for human rights and equality in this country."

"Our own national survey of attitudes conducted before and after the referendum found that more people viewed Ireland as a leader in Europe on human rights and equality after the passage of the Marriage Equality referendum," Ms Logan added.

The commission had also recommended amending Section 37 of the Employment Equality Acts - to prevent discrimination against teachers on the basis of their civil status, family status or sexual orientation.

The Government last year amended the Section 37 provision - which the commission says was "a further positive development" in 2015.