When #identity is not your own #equalityni #monitoring

All views my own, of course!!!

Through my whole career with Probation in Northern Ireland, from the moment I filled in the application form, I have been honest and upfront about my political and religious leanings and filled in my ‘Monitoring Form’ (where details about my ‘background’ such as gender, sexuality, nationality, ethnicity, disabled status, etc are captured) completely honestly.

Northern Ireland is rather peculiar about the religious aspect in particular, as they try to force you to put Protestant or Catholic, even when you are not, and what you are ‘perceived’ as being depending where you went to school or lived. As I have no religious persuasion at all, and have moved around various countries, and many schools (including, state, catholic run, and public/boarding) I thought that I had passed their idiotic grilling 16 years ago when I pointed out that I was indeed an agnostic, I did indeed have family of both religions, I did indeed go to schools run by both (and neither) religions, and lived in an area which was neither predominantly Catholic nor Protestant and, also, as I had lived extensively outside of Northern Ireland and could be perceived as English, British, or even European in background, I didn’t think there was an issue …in fact I had even been ‘used’ in recruitment panels as ‘other’ when there was an imbalance in religion members on the panel.
I’ve also made a conscious effort to advocate for integration in Northern Ireland, putting both my kids to school where religion isn’t the driving factor (like in the majority of segregated schools here) and have discussed/argued extensively with MPs, MLAs, and Ministers on the topic.
So imagine my surprise (horror and disgust) to find out today that someone, at sometime, has taken it upon themselves to choose my community background/religion for me as ‘protestant’?! Not only that but when I raised it with HR I was told that it may not be changeable because it is now a matter of public record with the Equality Commission.
…i was told that perhaps someone decided I was ‘perceived’ to come from that background after all and they should have notified me. Well screw that. I don’t actually give a damn on either front. No-one has the right to decide that for me in the first place, it is MY choice what – if any – religion or background I have and, NO-ONE notified me about anything or I would have put a stop to it back then.
As for not being able to change it …WATCH ME!!!
If someone had decided my gender or sexuality for me, or decided not to accept my choice, do you think that we’d be having this conversation now? No, I don’t think so! So why should my religion/background be any different?
Also, for whatever reason – despite my disability being announced and known about in a business/corporate setting since 2001 (and me falling afoul of HR/sickness policies since then to date thanks to my disabilities) in the HR monitoring details I am not listed as being a disabled member of staff either.
So, looks like monitoring and correct capturing of information matters …but only when it matters to them!!!