8 June 2022 – National LGBTIQ+ group, Equality Australia, has today responded to Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus’ statement that the government will introduce religious discrimination legislation this
term of Parliament, urging the government to avoid the mistakes of its predecessor, and to prioritise the protection of LGBTQ+ people in religious organisations.
“Our laws should protect all of us, equally, no matter who we are, whom we love or what we believe,” said Anna Brown, CEO of Equality Australia.
“Labor must avoid the mistakes of the previous government that instead introduced a Religious Discrimination Bill that would have wound back protections for women, LGBTIQ+ people, people with disability and people of faith, undermining inclusive workplaces and access to judgement-free
The Attorney-General made the remarks on ABC’s RN Breakfast earlier today. Prior to the election, Labor committed its support to the “extension of the federal anti-discrimination framework to ensure that Australians are not discriminated against because of their religious beliefs or activities,” but it remains unclear what form the protections may take.
“While Labor’s statements prior to the election are a welcome indication it is committed to ensuring protections for people of faith don’t result in discrimination against others, the government must ensure any reform raises the standard for everyone and doesn’t override existing protections,” said Ms Brown.
Equality Australia pointed to recent public examples of discrimination against LGBTQ+ students and teachers by religious schools as evidence of the urgent need to protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination. The group called on the government to introduce laws to remove outdated exemptions to relevant laws in its first hundred days.
“Labor must first act swiftly to fill gaps in protection for LGBTQ+ students and teachers in religious schools and extend those same protections to all staff working in any faith-based organisations, and LGBTQ+ people accessing services from religious providers,” said Brown.
“In 2013, the Labor Government removed religious exemptions from the aged-care sector, and faith-based providers embraced the opportunity to promote inclusion. It’s time to ensure that all goods and services are delivered without discrimination and that staff in these services are protected at work.”
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