The NSW Greens have called for the closing of loopholes in the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act that allow businesses owned by religious groups to discriminate against students, employees and clients if they hold that something about them conflicts with their beliefs.
Currently religious groups may refuse to hire GLBTs or terminate their employment, while GLBTI children can be forced out of a school with no redress.
The law was passed before homosexuality was decriminalised in NSW but has remained on the books ever since.
Greens lead candidate for the Legislative Assembly, David Shoebridge, said the party supported removing the exemptions and replacing them with a bill of rights that enshrined protection from such discrimination, while the NSW Government and the Coalition parties did not.
“Once a religious organisation receives taxpayer money to fund its operations, whether it’s a school, welfare services or accommodation, then it is absolutely unacceptable that they be allowed to discriminate against people on the basis of their sexual identity, their religion or being a single mother,” Shoebridge said.
The Greens state election candidate for Marrickville, Fiona Byrne, echoed the call, singling out the NSW Attorney General for criticism.
“The NSW Attorney Genenal John Hatzistergos should be protecting the vulnerable in society rather than defending an antiquated law allowing students to be expelled due to their sexuality,” said Byrne.
A spokesman for the Attorney General told media the law was necessary “to maintain a sometimes delicate balance between protecting individuals from unlawful discrimination while allowing people to practise their own beliefs”.
The Shadow Attorney General, Greg Smith indicated he believed the law needed changing, but that was not the view of his party.