Vic religious schools no longer able to discriminate against LGBTIQ+ employees

By Anna Macdonald

Wednesday June 15, 2022

Victoria's minister for emergency services Jaclyn Symes.
Victoria attorney-general Jaclyn Symes said it had been a painful journey for the LGBTIQ+ community, but the law marks an achievement. (AAP Image/James Ross)

A law has come into effect in Victoria that prevents schools and religious organisations from discriminating against employees on the basis of sexuality, gender identity or marital status.

The government says the laws will protect marginalised groups, particularly LGBTIQ+ people, in institutions such as religious schools. 

Victoria attorney-general Jaclyn Symes said it had been a painful journey for the LGBTIQ+ community, but the law marks an achievement.

“No one should have to hide who they love to do the job they love – from today, Victorians don’t have to. These reforms respect the independence of religious bodies while reducing critical gaps in protections against discrimination,” Symes said in a statement released on Tuesday.

The Equal Opportunity (Religious Exceptions) Amendment Act 2021 was passed in December last year.

“Equality is not negotiable in Victoria – these changes show how important it is to continue backing the rights of the LGBTIQ+ community in all aspects of life,” Victorian minister for equality Martin Foley added. 

The government said it had consulted with LGBTIQ+ groups, peak education bodies, faith leaders and faith-based groups. According to the government, the legislation does not impact how religious teachings are conducted, how faith is practised, nor how decisions for religious positions, such as priests, are made. 

The law also allows religious organisations and schools to discriminate against employees or potential employees if religious belief is integral to a job and is not able to be met by the employee or candidate, and the discrimination is reasonable and proportionate in the circumstances. 

Other provisions of the new legislation will come into effect later in the year in December, including the provision that religious organisations that receive government funding for services won’t be able to refuse service to people with those protected attributes.


READ MORE:

Queensland expands LGBTIQ+ roundtable with alliance group money

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