Jailed teacher Enoch Burke will remain behind bars during the Christmas season.
Burke , a teacher from Wilson’s Hospital School in County Westmeath, Ireland was jailed in September for refusing to obey a court order that he must not enter the school.
He was first suspended in August this year, for refusing to refer to a student by their preferred gender pronouns.
He cited his Christian beliefs, but after showing up at the school on the first day of term in September, he was arrested.
Despite refusing to purge his contempt Mr Burke, via a video link from Mountjoy, pleaded with Mr Justice Conor Dignam on Tuesday morning to release him from custody, telling the court that he was “not a thief, a murderer or a drug dealer” and was behind bars because of his religious objections to “transgendarism”.
The Judge said that was not prepared to release Mr Burke, given that the teacher at Wilson’s Hospital School in Co Westmeath is not prepared to purge his contempt and comply with what the judge said is “a valid court order.”
Despite his refusal to comply with the order Mr Burke can secure his release at any point by coming before the court and purging his contempt.
The judge’s ruling promoted an angry response from Mr Burke’s parents Sean and Martina Burke, who were present in court with two of their other children, strongly criticised the judge and the judiciary over the jailing of their son.
Sean Burke said the court’s refusal to release his son from prison was “unbelievable,” adding that son was not a criminal.
He said that he had brought his son up to have strong Christian values, and the objections to people being transgender is in the Bible, “from the book of Genesis to Revelations” Mr Burke Snr added.
Enoch Burke’s mother Mrs Martina Burke said the judiciary will face judgement from “a higher power” and “God Almighty” in relation to their decisions regarding her son.
She said that the case was “all about Transgendarism” and her son’s constitutional right to freely express his religious beliefs, which it has been claim have been breached.
She said that a child of primary school age knew what the case was all about.
“Shame upon you” Mrs Burke also told the court.
After Mr Burke’s parents had concluded their addresses to the court Mr Justice Dignam said that he was “not going to enter into a debate” with the Burkes about the court’s ruling.
In refusing to purge his contempt Mr Burke repeated what he has previously told the court that by agreeing to comply with the order would amount to an acceptance of “transgenderism”.
He said he was not prepared to do this as it would be in breach of his Christian beliefs, and his duty to God.
He added that he had never been in trouble with the law, and he pleaded with the court to use its discretion to “free me for Christmas,”
Mr Burke said as the time of the year when the birth of Christ is celebrated by most of the world, he should be released, adding that “I am in prison for my religious beliefs.”
(Picture Courtesy: RTE)