Religious Discrimination Bill Will Protect “Basic Right” to Employ Teachers of the Faith

The ability of religious schools to discriminate in favor of hiring religious teachers will be given additional protection under controversial bills on religious discrimination, adding to existing rights of schools to expel staff and students because that they are homosexual.

Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge said the government’s revised religious discrimination bill, the elements of which remain controversial among moderate coalition MPs, would protect the “essential right” of schools to discriminate against. proactively in their employment practices.

Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge said a bill on religious discrimination would protect the “essential right” of religious schools to hire staff of their own faith.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

“The bill will certainly allow religious schools to employ people of their own faith,” Tudge told Sky News on Wednesday.

“Now that’s an essential principle at play here… you can’t be a Catholic school if you can’t employ Catholic teachers. You cannot be a Muslim school without employing Muslim teachers.

He said the bill would overturn state legislation “where appropriate”, saying this ability was “under threat” in Victoria, where the state government has announced plans to pass laws prohibiting religious schools to fire or refuse to employ teachers because of their sexuality or gender. identity.

National Commission for Catholic Education executive director Jacinta Collins, a former Labor senator, urged the federal government to finalize legislation as soon as possible, saying religious schools’ labor rights risk being eroded by reforms proposed by Victoria to the State Equal Opportunities Act.

“We look forward to seeing provisions in legislation that allow religious schools to require employees to act in their roles in a manner that upholds the ethics and values ​​of that faith,” Ms. Collins said.

Adding to the confusion, when asked what would happen if a Catholic school rejects a teacher for being gay, Mr Tudge said: “It would not be legal under our bill” – which prompted LGBTQI rights group Equality Australia to condemn his remarks as “misleading”.

The final version of the bill has yet to be seen by the Coalition party hall, but government sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there would be no changes that would have moved a special exemption in the federal government. Sex Discrimination Act which allows religious schools to discriminate against LGBTQI staff and students, including firing or expelling them.


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