Greens to introduce bill to prevent private religious schools from legal discrimination against LGBTIQ students, teachers and parents

Greens spokesperson for Sexuality and Gender Diversity Hon Alison Xamon MLC will today introduce legislation to amend the the Equal Opportunities Act 1984 (WA) prevent private religious schools from legally discriminating against employees, students and their families on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Ms Xamon said repealing the discriminatory section of the Act, Section 73, is a natural progression after the recent passage of marriage equality legislation, coupled with progress towards expunging historical homosexual convictions.

“The notion that schools can legally discriminate is clearly out of step with community expectations, and WA law is amongst the most backward in Australia*” Ms Xamon said.

“We must now take immediate steps to repeal the last remaining law in WA that is discriminatory on the grounds of sexuality.”

Ms Xamon said it was unthinkable that young people who do not have a choice about their sexuality or, in most instances, which school they attend should be able to be legally discriminated against.

She said members of the public would be shocked to find that there were still gaps in legal protections for LGBTIQA+ members of the community that deny access to basic rights such as freedom to choose which school their child can attend.

“While most religious schools do not use this law and do not wish to, the danger to LGBTIQ+ students and staff is that a school’s policy can be unclear and can change when the principal does.

“Equal opportunity laws should be designed to protect all members of the community, but this currently is not the case in Western Australia.

“The Greens have always stood for equal rights for LGBTI+ people; so if the Government won’t introduce legislation to prevent this discrimination legally occurring, then we will.”

In summary, the Equal Opportunities (LGBTIQ Anti-Discrimination) Amendment Bill 2018:

  • Ends the provision currently granted to religious schools allowing discrimination against LGBTIQ staff and students
  • Amends the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 to stop this discrimination
  • Allows religious schools to dismiss staff or students who advocate or teach against the faith or tenets of the school
  • Allows religious schools to discriminate in the hiring of teaching staff whose role has a specific religious purpose only
  • Strikes the right balance between protecting religious freedoms while maintaining the human rights of the LGBTIQ community

* A recently published YouGov Galaxy poll shows 82% of Australians oppose church schools having the right to expel LGBTIQ+ students; 79% opposed teachers being sacked if they married their same sex partner; and 78% said religious schools should not be entitled to taxpayer funds if they discriminate against LGBTIQ+ students and teachers.