How Generous: Man Jailed After Refusing to Use Trans Pronouns Released for Christmas

Irish schoolteacher Enoch Burke (right) leaving the High Court, Dublin, to return to Mount
Brian Lawless/PA Images via Getty Images

After backlash amongst the media and the general public, a man who was jailed after refusing to use the preferred pronouns of a transgender pupil has been released in time for Christmas.

Enoch Burke, a teacher in Ireland, has been released from prison in time for Christmas after a ruling from the country’s high court on Wednesday.

Burke — a devout Christian — was jailed in early September after a row erupted between him and his school over his refusal to use the preferred pronouns of one pupil who is said to identify as transgender.

With the dispute eventually ending up in front of Ireland’s High Court, Burke was eventually jailed after it was found that he breached a court order for him to stay away from the school, though Burke has maintained that such an order is in breach of his constitutionally guaranteed religious freedoms.

However, after backlash from the Irish public and criticism from within the country’s left-leaning legacy media, Burke was finally released from prison on Wednesday evening.

According to a report by state-owned broadcaster RTÉ, Mr Justice Brian O’Moore issued the ruling, arguing that it appeared that Enoch Burke, in refusing to purge his contempt for the court order, appeared to believe he could gain from remaining incarcerated.

The judge also reportedly added that it was “intolerable” that taxpayers were both paying for Mr Burke’s salary — as he is currently suspended from teaching on full pay — as well as for his incarceration, and that it was difficult to avoid the conclusion that Burke has been exploiting his time in prison for his own ends somehow.

With a lawyer representing the school saying that there was little concern about Burke continuing to break the court order for him to stay away from the school during Christmas, as the school will remain closed until January 5th, the judge ordered he be released.

He also added that, while the release could continue after the school holidays concluded, if Burke once again returns to the school grounds when it reopens in the new year, the school will be able to appeal to the court to have him put back into prison.

RTÉ also reports Justice O’Moore as repeating the High Court’s claim that the court order demanding that Burke stay away from his school did not in any way interfere with Burke’s freedom of religion.

However, Burke has repeatedly claimed otherwise, having previously said that purging his contempt for the court order “goes against [his] religious beliefs”.

Burke is also reported by the state-owned broadcaster as telling Justice O’Moore during Wednesday’s hearing that he could not participate in the process of discussing his release, as he argued that doing so would be to agree that his incarceration was in keeping with the law in the first place.

He also reportedly insisted that his incarceration ultimately went back to a demand from his principal that he addresses a male pupil using the pronoun “they”.

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