In 2018, and in the lead up to the Victorian state elections, Daniel Andrews and the Labor party talked a big game when it came to their promises of better protections for the states LGBTQI communities,
Now, some three years on, the Victorian Greens are among a growing chorus, that are calling for immediate action, on these long overdue promises. Victorian Greens LGBTIQA+ spokesperson, Sam Hibbins, took aim at the Victorian government, on what was Wear It Purple Day described the laws as the stand as ‘insidious’.
“Victorians are rightly outraged when LGBTIQA+ are discriminated against and are deeply disappointed the Andrews Labor Government has so far refused to act,” Hibbins said as he continued in his attack.
“No-one should live in fear of losing their job or being kicked out of school for who they love or how they identify, but that’s exactly what these harmful exemptions are doing. If the government doesn’t move on this in Parliament soon, the Greens will,” said Hibbins.
Exemptions For Religious Schools To Discriminate
Today, the Victorian Equal Opportunity Act protects religious schools and organisations, allowing them to legally terminate staff on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Such exemptions exacerbate already disproportionate rates of depression, self-harm and suicide, and feelings of isolation felt by the LGBTQI communities, while for the individual they continue to negatively impact upon life and personal wellbeing.
Never ones to miss an opportunity, The National Greens party also chose this year’s Wear It Purple Day to announce the party’s plan to make schools safer for LGBTIQA+ students with inclusion training for all teachers.
Forming part of their election campaign, among a number of commendable goals, The Greens have proposed the removal of the School Chaplains Program, instead pitching that the program’s $61.4m in funding would instead be better directed towards secular, unbiased and inclusive support for students through counsellors and anti-bullying initiatives such as the Safe Schools Program.
“Teachers play a vital role in making schools safe for all of their students, but appropriate, community-informed training in how to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and asexual students is desperately lacking,” explained Greens LGBTIQA+ spokesperson Senator Janet Rice in a statement.
The Greens in their announcement drew particular attention to the 75% of LGBTIQ+ Australian youth who will experience bulling because of their identity, adding that 80% of those young people will experiencing bullying at their school.
“LGBTIQA+ young people’s mental health was already in dire straits before Covid and we are now seeing young people’s well-being plummet across the board during this pandemic.”
With the next Federal election less than a year away, Rice has promised that “the Greens will put an end to the discrimination against LGBTQ+ students and teachers in schools that successive Liberal and Labor governments have failed to do.”
“Voters have a choice this election between the major parties who talk the talk but continue to cave to the religious-right, and the Greens who will always fight for LGBTIQA+ communities and respect and equality for all Australians.”