Irish teacher who refused to use transgender pronouns to spend Christmas in jail as court delays hearing

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A Christian teacher who refused to use a student’s transgender pronouns has been sent back to jail until February at the earliest after an Irish judge declined to expedite the hearing of his challenge to a court order preventing him from entering his place of employment. 

Enoch Burke was jailed on September 5 after refusing to comply with a court injunction barring him from teaching at or entering the grounds of Wilson’s Hospital School, a Church of Ireland boarding school in Multyfarnham, Co. Westmeath. 

At today’s Court of Appeal case-management hearing, the evangelical Christian reportedly told Mr. Justice John Edwards that he “shouldn’t be in that chair” after the judge refused to grant a hearing of Burke’s appeal sooner than February 16, 2023. 

Burke also questioned whether Justice Edwards was “colluding” with other the judges before whom the defendant had appeared. 

The teacher’s mother, Martina Burke, was escorted from the court by police when she declared her son was being “robbed of his rights” and that the court was “corrupt.”  

Yesterday, Ammi Burke, a solicitor and Mr. Burke’s sister, initiated defamation proceedings against the Sunday Independent on her brother’s behalf after the newspaper falsely claimed the teacher was moved from his cell for “annoying” other inmates. 

Ireland’s strict defamation laws have already prompted the Sunday Independent to remove the offending article, but Ms. Burke argued that countless other media outlets and social media platforms have broadcast the smear.  

Mr. Burke meanwhile has repeatedly refused to purge his contempt of court by promising not to attend his place of employment, a declaration that would have secured his release from jail but one he previously said would be giving in to “something wrong.” 

“I do think it a gross injustice that the plaintiff [Wilson’s Hospital] and the court is seeking to deny me my religious beliefs,” he told Ms. Justice Eileen Roberts on September 15. “I go back to jail as a law-abiding subject of the State but a subject of God first.” 

Burke’s refusal to comply with the school principal’s May 9 order to use a male student’s new name and “they” pronoun saw him placed on paid administrative leave on August 22. 

Upon Burke’s continued attendance at the school, he was then handed an interim order on August 30 to prevent him from entering the school. 

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