Teacher jailed indefinitely for refusing to 'call a boy a girl'

Teacher jailed indefinitely for refusing to 'call a boy a girl'

It's the trans rights row that has gripped Ireland for well over a year – putting an otherwise unremarkable history teacher at the heart of the country's culture wars for his refusal to use a trans pupil's pronouns.

Enoch Burke – who taught History and German – refused to refer to a transitioning transgender student as 'they' rather than 'he' in May last year.

It sparked a chain of events that has led to him being jailed for repeatedly showing up at Wilson's Hospital School in County Westmeath after being sacked, and entering the staff room saying he was there to do his job.

Now he remains in Dublin's Mountjoy Prison with no prospect of release because he refuses to comply with a court order to stay away from the school premises.

Meanwhile, Burke's loyal family continue to protest at the school, maintaining he's being persecuted for his Christian beliefs – while supporters insist the whole 'country is behind him'.

The row broke out more than a year ago, when during a meeting with the headteacher and his deputy, Burke said that his Evangelical Christian beliefs meant he 'opposed transgenderism'.

Following this, Burke publicly criticised the headteacher's 'demand' that staff use students' chosen pronouns, following a service at the Church of Ireland school to celebrate its 260th anniversary

Burke was accused of 'breaching the confidence' of the transitioning student, and as a result, the teacher was suspended with pay and later fired for gross misconduct in August last year.

However, Burke continued showing up at the school – prompting his former employer to obtain a court order to get him to stay away.

In September last year, Burke was jailed for 100 days for ignoring the court order.

During an appeal, the teacher argued that he was being imprisoned because of his Christian beliefs.

After being released, Burke was imprisoned for the second time in September this year for refusing to stay away from the school again – and has been told he will remain in prison indefinitely until he agrees to comply with the court order.

The former teacher has been imprisoned at the facility since September 8 and has been participating in court hearings via video link.