23 November 2022 – National LGBTIQ+ organisation Equality Australia has today welcomed the passage of landmark reforms strengthening discrimination protections for Northern Territorians, including LGBTIQ+ people.
“Every Territorian deserves to live, study and work with dignity and respect,” said Equality Australia Legal Director Ghassan Kassisieh.
“This step to modernise the Northern Territory’s anti-discrimination laws for the 21st century follows other states and territories which have passed similar reforms.”
The Anti-Discrimination Amendment Bill 2022 passed 15 votes to 9 in Northern Territory Parliament early on Wednesday morning.
The reforms prevent religious schools from discriminating against staff based on their sexuality or personal religious beliefs, while preserving the ability of religious organisations to freely observe religious practices and employ people of the same faith where the job genuinely requires it.
“A misleading campaign stoked fear in the community about the impact of these reforms which simply requires religious schools to play by the same rules as everyone else, while preserving the ability of religious organisations to observe their religious practices and employ people of their own faith when the job genuinely requires it,” said Mr Kassisieh.
“These clear protections are important in the particular context of the Northern Territory where a religious school may be the only one operating in the area and where diverse religious beliefs, including First Nations spirituality, are part of the fabric of many lives.”
Along with the reforms protecting staff in religious schools, the Anti-Discrimination Amendment Bill 2022 also:
- introduces additional protections from discrimination and vilification for LGBTIQ+ people, people with disability, carers and people who are experiencing homelessness, unemployment or domestic and family violence, among others;
- introduces a positive duty on employers, educators and service providers to take steps within their means to eliminate discrimination, victimisation and sexual harassment;
- improves the process for complaints, including by allowing representative complaints brought by an organisation on behalf of a group of individuals.
“Our laws should protect all of us, equally. LGBTIQ+ Territorians now have greater protections from discrimination, no matter where they work, study or access services,” Mr Kassisieh said.