The Victorian Greens have declared they will “stand firm” if the state Government introduces a bill to remove most religious exemptions from anti-discrimination legislation, but excludes sexuality.

Greens MP Sue Pennicuik told Southern Star the party would not support plans by Attorney-General Rob Hulls to allow religious schools to continue to discriminate on the grounds of sexuality, marital status and sex.

“At the moment, religious groups can discriminate on any attribute,” she said.

Pre-empting the release of a SARC report last September, Hulls announced the Government would remove exemptions in the state’s Equal Opportunity Act so religious groups could no longer discriminate on the grounds of race, disability, age, physical features, political belief or breast-feeding.

Hulls stopped short of preventing religious groups discriminating on the grounds of sexuality.

Pennicuik said the Government’s stance amounted to a breach of human rights and questions about sexuality or marital status shouldn’t arise in a job interview.

“Religious freedom to believe is one thing, [but] someone’s ability to discriminate against another is a totally different mater.”

Pennicuik — who moved a private member’s bill in 2007 to remove small business and religious schools exemptions from the Equal Opportunity Act — wouldn’t be drawn on whether the Greens would not support the bill outright, but said it’s likely an amendment would be moved to include, sex, sexuality and marital status.

“I’d anticipate that the bill will remove a whole lot of discrimination. We wouldn’t want to stop that, but if it’s a bill that retains the discriminations that I think are unwarranted and unfair, then we’ll have to move to amend them.”

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