Just.Equal Australia Calls for Inclusive Negotiations on Discrimination Legislation

Just.Equal Australia Calls for Inclusive Negotiations on Discrimination Legislation
Image: Religious Discrimination Bill rally at the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne on February 9, 2022. Photo by Sam Elkin

Advocacy group Just.Equal Australia is urging Labor and the Greens to ensure that discussions with the Labor party concerning a bill addressing LGBTQ+ and religious discrimination encompass more than just school settings.

Just.Equal Australia emphasized the broader issue of discrimination faced by the LGBTQ+ community in faith-based institutions beyond schools.

Just.Equal urges the gorvernment to review potential changes

Rodney Croome, spokesperson for Just.Equal Australia, underscored the significance of addressing discrimination within publicly funded faith-based services such as hospitals, charities, and employment agencies.

He highlighted discrepancies in state laws regarding discrimination in these settings and emphasized the need for uniform protections across the board.

Croome referenced the Australian Law Reform Commission’s inquiry into religious exemptions, noting its focus on schools due to the terms of reference drafted by the Labor party.

However, he argued that if discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals in faith-based schools is deemed unacceptable, the same principle should apply to all faith-based services.

In response to Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus’s statement affirming the government’s commitment to eliminating discrimination, Croome stressed the necessity for Labor to extend this commitment to encompass all faith-based services.

Additionally, Croome called for the inclusion of an LGBTIQA+ Human Rights Commissioner within the Australian Human Rights Commission, a policy previously endorsed by the ALP but subsequently abandoned by current leader Anthony Albanese. He emphasized the need for dedicated representation for the LGBTQ+ community within the Commission.

‘Dismissed, Denied and Demeaned’

Meanwhile, a recent report released by Equality Australia sheds light on the pervasive discrimination faced by LGBTQ+ individuals in faith-based schools and organizations across Australia.

Titled ‘Dismissed, Denied and Demeaned: A national report on LGBTQ+ discrimination in faith-based schools and organisations’, the report delves into the endemic nature of discrimination within these institutions.

Ghassan Kassisieh, legal director of Equality Australia, highlighted the distressing accounts of discrimination documented in the report, including personal testimonies of individuals who have experienced discrimination firsthand. These accounts underscore the urgent need for stronger federal anti-discrimination laws to protect LGBTQ+ individuals from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

While proposed changes to discrimination laws, including amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act and the creation of a Religious Discrimination Act, have been discussed, bipartisan support remains elusive.

Despite efforts to engage opposition leader Peter Dutton in negotiations, the Coalition has yet to lend its support to the proposed legislation.

As discussions surrounding discrimination legislation continue, advocates stress the importance of comprehensive protections for the LGBTQ+ community and call for bipartisan cooperation to address systemic discrimination in all its forms.

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