On today’s Wear It Purple Day, the Victorian Greens have called on the state government to stop delaying action on protecting LGBTQ+ Victorians from discrimination.
They are calling for the removal of religious exemptions from the state’s Equal Opportunity Act.
Gaps in Victoria’s current equal opportunity laws allow religious schools and organisations to fire, expel, or discriminate against someone on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The Greens said that these exemptions can have a devastating impact on LGBTQ+ people, who feel forced to hide who they are for fear of losing their job or being thrown out of school.
The exemptions can also exacerbate the already disproportionate rates of depression, self-harm, and suicide faced by LGBTQ+ communities.
Ahead of the 2018 state election, the Andrews Government committed to fixing these gaps so that schools would no longer be able to discriminate against LGBTQ+ staff and students, but to date it has not acted.
Victorian Greens LGBTQ+ spokesperson Sam Hibbins said that Wear It Purple Day is important to celebrate diverse communities while also recognising the discrimination they continue to face on a daily basis.
He said that the government was best placed to introduce laws to remove the exemptions now with a supportive parliament, and that if it waited until the next term, legislation may face difficulty passing a potentially hostile upper house.
“The laws as they stand are insidious,” said Hibbins.
“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.
“Victorians are rightly outraged when LGBTIQA+ people are discriminated against and are deeply disappointed the Andrews Labor Government has so far refused to act.
“If the government doesn’t move on this in Parliament soon, The Greens will.”
The Greens have worked for years to remove the discriminatory religious exemptions in the Equal Opportunity Act, but these attempts have been voted down by the state Labor and Liberal parties.