Star Observer – Calls For Federal Government To Secure Protections For LGBTQ Staff And Students In Religious Schools


This article was originally published by the Star Observer. You can find the original article here.


This article was originally posted on CityHub.

Equality Australia has called on the Federal Government to secure support in parliament for reforms that will protect staff and students in religious schools.

“Every day the government delays is another day more harm is being done because religious schools are allowed to discriminate against staff and students who are gay, trans, pregnant, divorced or unmarried,” said CEO Anna Brown.

“If the government fails to pass laws this term of government, they will have broken their election promise to our community and betrayed all the vulnerable students and teachers around Australia who will continue to lose their jobs or hide who they are,” she continued.

Earlier this year, the Federal Government released a major report about anti-discrimination laws and religious schools in Australia, which had been finalised by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) late last year.

The commission, keenly anticipated by the LGBTQ community, recommended scrapping the controversial exemption in section 38 of the Sex Discrimination Act that allows religious schools to discriminate against LGBTQ students and staff.

Ms Brown from Equality Australia said, “People are genuinely shocked to discover a religious school can fire a woman for falling pregnant outside of marriage or expel a student because they are gay.”

“Yet carve-outs in our laws allow these schools to play by their own rules with little accountability or oversight and in a manner that is manifestly out of step with community expectations.”

Impact of the ALRC report into religious schools

The commission highlighted the importance of religious faith in Australian communities and families being able to choose schools for their children that align with their beliefs, but noted that laws need to be changed so that religious schools aren’t given blanket exemptions from rules designed to protect people from sex discrimination.

Some religious schools campaigned for the government not to remove faith-based protections from the Sex Discrimination Act, saying that religious education is under threat.

In March, in an open letter addressed to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, faith and educational leaders from Christian, Islamic and Jewish organisations joined to condemn the report’s findings.

“This ALRC report and its recommendations are deeply flawed and if implemented would have disastrous consequences for religious schools and religious educational institutions,” they wrote.

“The recommendations made by the report will prevent the overwhelming majority of faith-based schools from preferring persons who share and authentically live out their faith,” the open letters reads.

“It will therefore extinguish their distinct and authentic character.”

The commission followed inquiries documenting accounts of students being expelled “because they were transgender” or staff being fired because of their sexual orientation.

When staff and students are subjected to this discrimination, it can “result in tangible harm (such as loss of employment, and economic or social disadvantage) as well as intangible harm (such as undermining a person’s sense of self‑worth, equality, belonging, inclusion, and respect),” the report said.

This article was originally published by the Star Observer. You can find the original article here.

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