Labor has “no plans” to address the law allowing religious schools to fire teachers for being LGBTI, Tanya Plibersek has said.

Religious schools are exempt from federal and state discrimination laws, allowing them to discriminate based on their beliefs, The Guardian has reported.

While not ruling out changes in the future, the Labor deputy leader indicated her party will defend the current exemptions in the Ruddock inquiry into religious freedom.

The National Catholic Education Commission this week released its pre-budget submission, saying that in light of marriage equality religious freedom must be upheld so Catholic schools could “teach and foster a school environment that reflects the mission and identity of the Catholic church”.

Plibersek said she did not foresee an increase in homophobic firings.

“What I would say is that most Catholic schools are very thoughtful about keeping the very best staff,” she said.

“I don’t expect to see a spate of people sacked because of their sexuality.”

Last year, a Perth teacher was fired from his job at a religious school after coming out as gay.

The Greens promised in 2016 to remove religious exemptions to anti-discrimination laws for schools.

The panel behind the religious freedom inquiry will meet for the first time next week, following controversy over whether submissions made to it will be kept secret.

The inquiry is due to report to parliament in March.

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