Rainbow Territory petition to scrap discriminatory NT law


rainbow territory northern territory lgbtiq discrimination politics
Photo: Rainbow Territory

LGBTIQ advocacy group Rainbow Territory are calling for the repeal of a law allowing religious schools to discriminate on the basis of sexuality.

The NT’s Anti-Discrimination Act states a religious school may discriminate against a staff member at the institution based on religious beliefs and sexuality.

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The NT Attorney‑General’s department is currently reviewing the territory’s discrimination laws.

Rainbow Territory’s Change.org petition to scrap the exemption has attracted close to 1000 signatures. A Rainbow Territory spokesperson said they knew of cases in which staff had been discriminated against at religious schools.

“Currently, because of section 37A in the NT Anti Discrimination Act, religious schools in the NT can legally sack a gardener, a cook, an admin worker, or a teacher based on sexuality.

“No other workplace in the NT allows this. It is time for LGBTQI Territorians to work in all NT workplaces without the fear of getting the sack for who they are.

“Territorians should be employed based on their ability to do the job, not on their sexuality.”

But Northern Territory Attorney-General Natasha Fyles said the government would wait for a report on the issue. The Australian Law Reform Commission is currently reviewing such laws.

The ALRC is due to report to Attorney-General Christian Porter in April next year.

“While we are looking at the NT’s anti-discrimination legislation, it important to note that any Commonwealth law on this matter would supercede the NT’s law,” Ms Fyles told the NT News.

Rainbow Territory previously welcomed the NT government’s commitment to outlaw vilification on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

They also want the government to improve the reporting of racial vilification complaints.

The NT is ‘out of step’ on LGBTIQ discrimination protections

Speaking last February, Equality Australia CEO Anna Brown said updating the NT laws would create “a fairer, more inclusive society.”

“The NT is out of step when it comes to protections from discrimination for transgender people,” she said.

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“For example, transgender Territorians are protected from discrimination all around Australia, but not in their home territory.

“Including ‘gender identity’ and ‘sex characteristics’ as protected attributes would provide important protections. [It would] also bring the NT in line with international human rights standards.”

Ms Brown said last year the government’s review should also scrap “outdated” religious exemptions like section 37A.

She said the laws are “inappropriate and inconsistent with Australia’s human rights obligations.”

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