Scrap laws allowing faith schools to discriminate, AG told


Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus against a church or religious school
Composite photo. Image: YouTube, Pexels

Blanket legal exemptions that allow religious schools to discriminate against staff and students based on sexuality and gender identity should be scrapped, a major inquiry has told the federal government.

The Australian Law Reform Commission’s long-awaited report on the issue is finally out this week.

The report recommends finally scrapping laws which currently and inexplicably allow religious schools to discriminate against staff and students on the basis of their sexuality, gender identity, marital or relationship status, or pregnancy.

The report also says those schools should be able to preference the employment of people who share the same religion, but where “reasonably necessary and proportionate”.

It all comes as Labor prepares new draft religious discrimination legislation. Repealing those exemptions is a core part – and a 2022 election promise.

In response, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus (above) said the government wants to “enhance protections in anti-discrimination law in a way that brings Australians together.”

“Just as Commonwealth law already prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, gender, sexuality, disability and age, no one should be discriminated against because of their faith,” he said.

“Equally, no students or member of staff should be discriminated against because of who they are.

“At the same time, religious schools must continue to be able to build and maintain communities of faith.

“The government is seeking to strengthen protections for all of us – students, teachers, people of faith. So that’s why bipartisan support for solutions is essential.”

No more delays, advocates say

However LGBTQIA+ advocates said the government needs to get a move on. They’re worried the Coalition will say no and effectively “veto” the reform.

“Every day we delay these reforms there will be more students who are robbed of their chance to become a school prefect or take their partner to the formal,” Equality Australia CEO Anna Brown said.

“And there will be more teachers fired or told they are no longer fit for any promotions.

“While they will never get back these opportunities the government can act now to protect future generations from harm.”

Greens LGBTQIA+ spokesperson Stephen Bates says the ALRC’s recommendations are “very positive”.

“We know that aged care, housing, hospitals, disability services and many more essential public services have been outsourced to religious institutions over the years,” Stephen said.

“LGBTIQA+ people are still discriminated against when they engage with these services or work there.

“We want to work with the Government to get the ALRC’s recommendations passed. We haven’t seen the bills yet. But we’re optimistic that we can work together to deliver fairer anti-discrimination legislation.”

‘Reasonable and proportionate’

Meanwhile, the Australian Human Rights Commission also gave the ALRC’s report and recommendations a big tick.

“Our laws should also ensure that the allowance of preferential employment by religious educational institutions should only occur where it is necessary to maintain a community of faith,” Sex Discrimination Commissioner Anna Cody said.

“Any such allowances should be reasonable and proportionate. This is in keeping with international human rights law.”

For the latest LGBTIQA+ Sister Girl and Brother Boy news, entertainment, community stories in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.

Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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