The Victorian Greens have announced their plans to re-introduce a bill that would protect students and teachers at faith-based schools across the state from discrimination.
The bill would amend the state’s Equal Opportunity Act 2010 by removing current exemptions allowing faith-based schools to discriminate on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, lawful sexual activity, marital status, parental status, or gender identity.
The Greens’ most recent attempt to repeal these laws was voted down by both the Labor Government and the Liberal Opposition in 2018.
With the Federal Liberal Government reneging on its promise to end discrimination against LGBTIQ students and teachers, and instead pursuing religious freedom laws that would further entrench the right to discriminate, the Greens are now calling for reform on a state level.
Victorian Greens spokesperson for LGBTI equality, Sam Hibbins, said that while the federal debate around religious freedom continues, nothing is stopping the Andrews Government from reforming the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 to protect LGBTI Victorians now.
“Victorians were rightly outraged when the Ruddock review revealed that faith-based schools were allowed to expel students or sack teachers because of their sexual or gender identities,” said Hibbins.
“And they have the right to be disappointed knowing that previous attempts to repeal these laws in Victoria have been voted down.
“Laws that allow discrimination based on sexuality and gender identity have no place in society and clearly do not reflect the values of the wider community.
“I am optimistic that in 2020 these common-sense changes to protect LGBTI students and teachers can be achieved.”
The federal religious discrimination bill seeks to allow religious individuals and organisations such as schools the right to discriminate, such as by expelling a child for firing a teacher for being LGBTIQ.
In addition to LGBTIQ people, the bill targets marginalised groups including Indigenous Australians, women, people with disabilities, and people of minority faiths.
The government has received thousands of submissions in opposition to the proposed new laws.