United Nations calls out Australia’s religious exemptions to discriminate against LGBTIQs

Homophobic Countries Suffer A Major Set-back At The United Nations

The United Nations’ special rapporteur on LGBTIQ rights has called out Australia for allowing religious groups to legally discriminate against people over their sexuality or gender identity, or their support for LGBTIQ equality in a new report.

UN Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, Victor Madrigal-Borloz released the report, “Freedom of religion or belief, and freedom from violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity” this week at the fifty-third session of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The report’s summary states that it is an examination of “the intersection between freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief and protection from violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”

In particular, it singles out Australia as a country “where religious schools have fired teachers because their sexual orientation was seen to contradict the school’s religious norms and values.”

“The [United Nations has] learned of several [such] cases in Australia.”

“Some States justify their acquiescence of such dismissals on the grounds that religious institutions should have autonomy in their internal administration, admissions policies, and curricula. This claim, however, can hinder the successful implementation of plans and programs intended to promote diversity-oriented education, comprehensive sexuality education, and gender equality.”

The report noted that the Inter-American Court of Human Rights had recently found in favour of a lesbian teacher who was fired as a religious teacher in Chile after it was made public that she was cohabiting with her partner.

“Chile had violated the teacher’s right to equality and non-discrimination, right to privacy, and her right to work,” the report says.

Australia is also called out for allowing “government funded foster care and adoption agencies [to] reject prospective families based on sexual orientation, gender identity and faith.”

“States owe obligations under international human rights law to ensure that LGBT consumers are not discriminated against, regardless of whether its agent is a State or a non-State actor,” the report says,

“As the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief [has] outlined, “it is not permissible for individuals or groups to invoke ‘religious liberty’ to perpetuate discrimination against … lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex persons, when it comes to the provision of goods or services in the public sphere.”

Welcomed by activists

The report has been welcomed by Equality Australia legal director Ghassan Kassisieh who said protections were urgently needed across Australia for LGBTIQ+ people in employment, education and service delivery.

“These discriminatory practices are not theoretical or academic. One in three students and almost two in five school employees are employed in non-government schools, most of which are religiously affiliated,” Kassisieh said.

“Two out of the four adoption providers in NSW explicitly state on their website that you are unable to adopt a child if you are a same-sex couple, thanks to gaps in our legal protections.”

“Students should be able to go to school and be supported to learn and grow as who they are, and teachers should not fear losing their jobs because their sexuality or gender, or because they support a student who is gay or trans,” he said.

“When it comes to services, LGBTIQ+ people should always be able to access what they need, whether that be healthcare, child welfare, adoption services or disability support, no matter who is providing the service. Our laws should protect all of us, equally.”

For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Andrew M Potts

Andrew has been covering LGBTQIA+ issues for a range of publications in Australia over two decades and was the Asia-Pacific correspondent for global LGBTQIA+ news website Gay Star News.

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


  1. Julian
    24 June 2023

    If you are living in a remote location with MP Katter and Hanson political Politicians expect Hate PREJUDICE AND BIGOTRY from the red Necks Queensland Australia.
    Pushing the Bible Fire & Brimstone

  2. Rich
    27 June 2023

    It’s a challenge. You have a right to practice your faith – freedom of religion (this is not just protection from discrimination, but includes the freedom to practice, believe, etc). These beliefs are not picked from the air and are based on their rule books-for which most religions have homosexuality as a sin for which needs saving.

    By UN placing one above the other, they lose credibility. They need to resolve and able to explain how their position to force religious institutions to make decisions outside their beliefs, is not taking away their right to believe and religion is not just defined to a person, it’s a thing.

    I’m not going to go into the theology of this, but effectively the argument for and against homosexuality as a sin could go either way. I don’t understand why anyone would want to or force a school that doesnt support their beliefs or has a terrible work culture (alow to discriminate) anyway.

    • Jennifer Jones
      28 June 2023

      Religious beliefs are a choice, sexuality and gender identity are not.
      Nobody’s choices should have priority over who an individual is.

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