Equality advocates have welcomed an NT government proposal to reform anti-discrimination laws, including to protect LGBTQ teachers.
The NT government released an exposure draft proposing changes to the Northern Territory’s Anti-Discrimination Act for public consultation.
Among the dozens of proposed amendments is a change to section 37a, that currently provides religious institutions the right not to employ LGBTQ teachers. The government is proposing to limit those legal exemptions.
However the draft proposal would still give religious institutions the ability to reject someone on “the grounds of religious belief or activity” or if they believe it interferes with “the application of the doctrine”.
NT Attorney-General Chansey Paech (pictured) said the government’s draft bill would protect Territorians from discrimination and promote equality.
“Our unique demographic means Territorians are vulnerable to inequities based on race, culture, gender and a range of other factors such as sexuality and age,” he said.
“Our mission is to ensure our laws are both reflective of modern values and protective of our diverse community.
“Amendments to the Act will promote a rights-based approach and close the divide for our current and future generations.”
Paech encouraged groups and individuals to give feedback on the proposed changes until consultation closes on August 12.
Rainbow Territory welcomes NT government anti-discrimination bill
NT LGBTIQ group Rainbow Territory has welcomed the bill and its move to protect “all types of paid and unpaid workers, including by removing exemptions allowing religious schools to discriminate against LGBTQ+ staff.”
The bill will also introduce more anti-discrimination and vilification protections for LGBTIQ+ people and numerous other groups, the group say.
Rainbow Territory spokesperson Dr Ahmad Syahir Mohd Soffi said the reforms are “years in the making”.
“NT laws [should] protect LGBTIQ+ people from discrimination, no matter where we work, study or access services,” Dr Soffi said.
“The bill provides a good start towards laws ensuring a fairer and more equal Northern Territory for all of us.”
Equality Australia Legal Director Ghassan Kassisieh said both they and Rainbow Territory will suggest technical improvements to the draft.
“LGBTIQ+ Territorians do not have the luxury of choice if a local religious school or service provider discriminates against them or turns them away,” he said.
“That’s why this Bill needs to go further in ensuring the law protects everyone’s right to be treated with dignity and respect, no matter who they are or whom they love.”
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