Christian Schools Australia has made a submission to the government’s religious freedom review, calling for schools to retain the right to hire and fire staff over religious beliefs and behaviour, including sexuality.

In a joint submission with Adventist Schools Australia, the group has also asked for the right to eject students from school communities over religious differences, The Guardian has reported.

Human rights groups including Amnesty International and LGBTI organisations have called for religious exemptions to discrimination law to instead be tightened to protect the rights of minorities.

Last year a Perth teacher was fired from a Christian school after coming out as gay, under a legal loophole that allows religious schools in Western Australia to do so.

The Catholic Church threatened during the marriage equality debate to fire gay teachers, nurses and other staff if they were to marry someone of the same sex.

“If freedom of religion is to remain a legitimate hallmark of Australian education then the rights of school communities to operate in accordance with religious beliefs must be upheld,” the Christian Schools Australia submission read.

“This must include the right to choose all staff based on their belief in, and adherence to, the beliefs, tenets and doctrines of the religion concerned.”

The National Council of Churches in Australia said in its submission to the review that freedom of religion was already “in reasonable shape”.

However, the submission claimed that religious people had been verbally and physically abused over the marriage equality debate, comparing their experiences to the persecution of Muslims after the September 11 attacks.

LGBTI advocacy group just.equal called for laws allowing discrimination against LGBTI people to be totally abolished.

“This includes those provisions that allow discrimination and vilification by religious individuals and faith-based organisations such as schools, hospitals, welfare agencies and aged care facilities,” said just.equal’s submission.

Initial submissions to the religious freedom review close today.

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