Advocates in Western Australia are calling on the government to close a legal loophole that allows discrimination against LGBTI students and teachers.
The state’s Equal Opportunity Act still allows private schools to sack LGBTI teachers, expel LGBTI students, and refuse enrolment to children of rainbow families, according to Out in Perth.
“Under WA’s Equal Opportunity Act, church schools have sweeping powers to sack any staff member just because they are gay or lesbian,” said Maxine Drake, spokesperson for the Same-Sex Parents Association.
“Anyone at all, including a geography teacher, gardener, school accountant or music instructor—it is indiscriminate.
“WA’s extraordinary loophole for church schools is so wide and poorly written, it even allows students to be expelled if they have gay parents.”
LGBTI advocate and former Democrats senator Brian Greig said that staff at religious schools will be more vulnerable once marriage equality is passed.
“I am very concerned that once same-sex marriage is achieved, staff members at private schools who wish to legally marry under federal law could then be legally sacked under state law,” he said.
“I don’t believe Western Australians support this, and I believe the state government should move quickly to prevent this situation by scrapping the special exemptions for private schools.
“The anti-gay loopholes in the state Act no longer have community support and must be repealed.”
Activists have written to Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan urging reform of the Equal Opportunity Act.
Greens spokesperson for sexuality and gender identity Alison Xamon said her party backs the calls to close the discrimination loophole.
“I think members of the public would be shocked to find that there are still gaps in legal protections for [LGBTI] members of our community that deny basic rights such as freedom to choose which school their child can attend,” she said.
“We must change our laws and end public funding to schools that do not uphold fundamental human rights.”