Irish lawmakers last week approved legislation which extends LGBT protections to people working in religious-run state institutions.

The Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill repeals exemptions in the Employment Equality Act which effectively allowed such institutions, primarily schools but also hospitals, to discriminate against workers on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Gay rights activists applauded the move.

“The Bill is the key piece of the legislative map that will allow LGBT people to be themselves, get married and have a family without a threat to their job if they work in a religious-run institution,” said Sandra Irwin-Gowran, director of education policy at the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN).

“This new legislation protects teachers in these areas from discrimination and it provides a new space for gay teachers to become part of the communities in which they work and live for the first time,” said a spokesman for the Irish National Teachers' Organization LGBT Group.