Government must act on ALRC recommendations to protect LGBTQ students and teachers

​The Public Interest Advocacy Centre welcomes today’s release of the Australian Law Reform Commission’s (ALRC) report  from its inquiry into the special legal privileges that allow religious schools to discriminate against LGBTQ students and teachers.

The ALRC report recommends amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act and Fair Work Act to ensure students and staff do not face discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

The narrow terms of reference for the inquiry mean the ALRC’s report does not propose immediate reforms to prevent discrimination against LGBTQ people by religious organisations in healthcare, disability and other community services, but those reforms remain essential to ensure all Australians live free from discrimination.

The following quotes can be attributed to Alastair Lawrie, Director of Policy and Advocacy at PIAC​:

‘The Government committed to protecting LGBTQ students and teachers in religious schools against discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Today’s ALRC report lays out a clear pathway for how to keep that promise.’

‘The report recommends removing the exceptions in the Sex Discrimination Act that have given religious schools special privileges to discriminate – and have caused great harm to LGBTQ students, teachers and school staff.’

‘The Law Reform Commission’s recommendations must be introduced and passed as a matter of urgency. LGBTQ students and teachers in religious schools have waited far too long already for the right to learn and to teach free from the fear of discrimination.’

‘The Morrison Government promised to fix this problem and failed. The Albanese Government must now deliver on its election commitments to protect LGBTQ students and teachers in religious schools as quickly as possible.’

‘We’re disappointed that the narrow terms of reference given to the ALRC mean the report does not recommend immediate removal of general religious exceptions which allow discrimination in other taxpayer funded services operated by faith bodies across healthcare, disability and elsewhere.’

‘Gay nurses, lesbian doctors, bisexual aged care workers, trans NDIS service providers, and LGBTQ people accessing a wide range of publicly funded community services deserve the same rights, and same protections, as queer students and teachers.’

‘We welcome Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus’s clear statement yesterday that “no Australian should be discriminated against because of who they are. All Australians should be able to live free from discrimination.”’ [Guardian Australia liveblog, posted at 9:53 AEDT, 20 March 2024]

‘The Government needs to back these words with action by removing the broad religious exceptions provided under the Sex Discrimination Act, in line with laws already in place in Victoria, Tasmania and the Northern Territory.’

‘Those reforms in Tasmania have been operating, successfully for a quarter of a century. It’s well beyond time for Commonwealth laws to catch up.’

Media contact:
PIAC Media and Communications Manager, Dan Buhagiar: 0478 739 280

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