Media Release
Friday November 4th 2022

Just.Equal Australia has welcomed a new inquiry into protecting LGBTIQA+ students and staff from discrimination by faith-based schools.

Attorney-General, Mark Dreyfus, initiated the review today through the Australian Law Reform Commission.

However, Just.Equal is concerned that giving preference to students or staff of a particular religion - something the Government's terms of reference support - will be used as camouflage for discriminating against LGBTIQA+ people.

Spokesperson, Brian Greig, said he welcomed the inquiry.

“Just.Equal will do all it can to ensure its recommendations are as strong as possible, and not weaker than existing high standards in states like Tasmania and Victoria. "

"It must be very clear that if faith-based schools are allowed to engage in religious preferencing this cannot be used to justify indirect discrimination against LGBTIQA+ students or teachers."

"If schools are allowed to use discrimination on the grounds of religious affiliation as a loophole to discriminate against LGBTIQA+ people it will just result in a slow purge of LGBTIQA+ teachers from faith-based schools."

“It is not enough to simply protect LGBTIQA+ teachers who are currently employed, our laws must also prevent anti-LGBTIQA+ discrimination in the workplace at point of application, just as with race ” Greig said.  

Just.Equal Australia is alarmed Mr Dreyfus' terms of reference specifies consultation with a range of groups but neglects LGBTIQA+ organisations.

The terms of reference specify "targeted consultation with religious organisations, the education sector, unions, legal experts and other civil society representatives".

“The fact is that a significant amount of discrimination in faith schools is against LGBTIQA+ people. It is unacceptable that those most impacted are not on the consultation list", Mr Greig said.

"Just.Equal will write to the ALRC asking it to specifically include LGBTIQA+ groups in the list of groups to be consulted."
The Morrison Government previously gave the ALRC a brief to examine religious exemptions in the Sex Discrimination Act. In contrast, the new brief is directly about removing discrimination against LGBTIQA+ students and staff in faith-based schools.
For the terms of reference of the inquiry:
For a copy of this statement on the web, click here
For more information contact Brian Greig (WA) 0407 776 961.