16 September 2021 – Equality Australia and the Independent Education Union (Vic) have welcomed the Victorian Government’s announcement that it will reform anti-discrimination laws to better protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
“Everyone deserves to live, work and study with dignity and respect, no matter who they are or whom they love”, said Anna Brown, CEO of Equality Australia.
“Today’s announcement is the latest demonstration of the Andrews Government’s leadership and commitment to equality, including for LGBTQ+ people.
“By winding back outdated carve-outs in antidiscrimination laws, the Victorian Government can ensure that people in Victoria can no longer be sacked, expelled, or treated unfairly by religious organisations such as school or service providers, simply because of their gender identity or sexual orientation.”
Deb James, General Secretary, Independent Education Union Victoria Tasmania, said:
“Every worker should be confident that they are safe in their workplace, and be treated fairly by their employer, and judged only by their capacity to fulfill their role, not by their gender or sexual orientation.”
“Many of our members have been subject to discrimination in the workplace, dismissed simply because of who they are or whom they love. These outdated laws have robbed students of skilled teachers, who also make schools inclusive and welcoming spaces for LGBTQ+ students.”
Equality Australia welcomed the Victorian Government’s commitment to ensuring the laws protect LGBT people working and studying in religious schools, as well as people working in or seeking to access services made available to the public by government funded, faith-based organisations.
“Victoria’s laws are currently out of step with 21st century community expectations and the practices of many faith-based organisations who have diverse workforces and seek to treat people with dignity and respect”, said Anna Brown, CEO of Equality Australia.
“Unless a person’s religion is actually relevant to their role or their needs, faith-based organisations should treat all their employees and the people who rely on their services fairly and without discrimination.
However, Equality Australia wants to see the government’s proposed changes simplified so that they apply to any service provided by a faith-based organisation to the public.
“Whether a faith-based organisation receives direct government funding or sources donations relying on its tax-deductible status to provide a service should not determine whether or not they can discriminate. It certainly doesn’t change the experience for a person who is turned away or treated unfairly because of their sexuality or gender.”
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