20 October 2022 – Equality Australia is calling on the LGBTIQ+ community to share their personal experiences of discrimination at religious schools and organisations.
The national LGBTIQ+ rights organisation is conducting an online survey to hear first-hand from students, teachers and other community members about their encounters with religious schools or faith-based organisations.
“We know that discrimination is happening in faith-based schools and other religious institutions around the country,” said Equality Australia CEO Anna Brown.
“It is essential that the real-world experiences of people in our community are understood and acknowledged, and their concerns addressed.”
Ms Brown said people had the option of filling out the survey anonymously. “We know this can be difficult for people to talk about and we will treat everyone’s responses with care, kindness and respect,” she said.
The survey is also designed to capture community sentiment on religious discrimination reforms, as the Albanese government has promised to introduce new legislation during its first term in government.
“It is vital that we hear the voice of all our communities, including LGBTIQ+ people of faith, to ensure we can help shape laws that protect all of us, equally,” Ms Brown said.
The former Morrison government abandoned its flawed Religious Discrimination Bill after a strong campaign highlighting the ways in which that bill wound back protections for women, LGBTIQ+ people, people with disabilities, and even people of faith.
“Our community now has the best chance in a generation to make the case for fixing unfair laws that allow religious schools and organisations to discriminate against us,” Ms Brown said.
“Every student should be able to go to school and feel free to be who they are, supported to learn and safe from discrimination, and no teacher should feel they might lose their job because of their sexuality or gender, or because they support a student who is gay or trans.”
Before they were elected the Labor Party committed to protecting LGBTIQ+ students and teachers from discrimination in religious schools, while maintaining the right of these schools to preference people of faith in the selection of staff.
However, the Albanese Government made no commitment to addressing discrimination in broader religious organisations that provide services to the general public.
“The door should always be open to LGBTIQ+ people who need services, like healthcare, homelessness or disability support –no matter who is delivering that service,” Ms Brown said.
“We want to make sure that any new religious discrimination laws do not introduce new forms of discrimination against LGBTIQ+ people, and work to remove existing legal carve-outs that allow religious schools and organisations to unfairly discriminate against us.”
“That’s why we need your voice,” concluded Ms Brown.