The federal government’s proposed anti-discrimination bill has come under fire from a prominent teacher’s union.

The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) has strongly criticised the government’s Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill, accusing the legislation’s exceptions for religious businesses of entrenching discrimination rather than combating it.

In a letter to Attorney-General Nicola Roxon, the NTEU argued the exceptions amounted to discrimination against LGBTI people and unmarried mothers.

NTEU National President Jeannie Rea said the Gillard Labor government was letting gay teachers down by upholding the religious exceptions.

“The religious exceptions in the draft bill represent a fundamental undermining of workers’ rights, since they allow discrimination on the basis of individuals’ status as workers,” Rea said.The exemptions, which mirror those present in current legislation, would extend to any public service provider run by a religious organisation, such as private schools and hospitals.

The NTEU represents the interests of tertiary education employees such as university lecturers, TAFE teachers and research staff.

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