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ACT Government to close off religious schools’ discrimination ‘loophole’ today

Ian Bushnell 31 October 2018 19
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The ACT Government is moving to amend the Discrimination Act today but the Catholic sector says there is no need to rush to legislate.

The ACT Government is moving to strip religious schools of the legal right to reject gay teachers and prevent them discriminating against anyone on the basis of sexuality, gender identity, race, pregnancy or intersex status, with amendments to the ACT’s Discrimination Act to be introduced to the Legislative Assembly today (1 November).

It said the ACT’s Discrimination Act would be amended to clarify exceptions for religious schools, ensuring discrimination is only allowed on the basis of religious conviction.

“The reaction to leaked elements of the Australian Government’s review of Religious Freedoms demonstrates that the Canberra community does not accept the notion that it is okay to treat people differently based on their sexuality,” Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Mental Health Minister Shane Rattenbury said in a joint statement.

“Religious schools of all faiths serve an important role and we support the valuable contribution these schools make to the diversity of our ACT community. However, it is clear that current exceptions allowing religious schools to discriminate against students and staff are out of step with community expectations.”

They said the Act as amended would still allow schools to give preference to students and employees on the basis of their religious conviction.

The reforms had been based on discrimination laws in Tasmania.

“The right to religious beliefs is absolute, but the right to demonstrate those beliefs must be subject to reasonable limitation to protect other human rights such as the right to equality, to freedom from discrimination and children’s rights to be cared for and protected during their education,” Mr Barr and Mr Rattenbury said.

“As a community we all have a role in preventing the serious harm that discrimination can cause to vulnerable young people and their families, and our valued teachers and education staff.”

The Chief Minister last week flagged the changes, describing current ACT legislation regarding religious freedoms as a “legal loophole” existing between the Discrimination Act of 1991 and the Human Rights Act 2004.

The Catholic sector said that there was no need to rush to change legislation and that it was open to dialogue.

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19 Responses to ACT Government to close off religious schools’ discrimination ‘loophole’ today
Bek Clark Bek Clark 5:05 am 02 Nov 18

Private religious schools are havens for hiding and shifting pedophiles around.

Let’s not give them a cent.

Gareth Rowlands Gareth Rowlands 7:39 pm 01 Nov 18

Ooorrrr we could just ban "faith" schools 🙂

Scott Welsh Scott Welsh 6:09 pm 01 Nov 18

Just don’t remove the public holidays... unforgivable

Ruth Lee Martin Ruth Lee Martin 5:34 pm 01 Nov 18

About time.

Shaun Hazell Shaun Hazell 5:10 pm 01 Nov 18

Its never happened once it's just grandstanding and virtue signaling

Jessica Brisbane Jessica Brisbane 3:43 pm 01 Nov 18

They can still discriminate as long as they publish a policy to do so.

Wendy Miles Wendy Miles 2:27 pm 01 Nov 18

Religious schools should be able to discriminate on the basis of religion only.

    Stephen Page-Murray Stephen Page-Murray 2:30 pm 01 Nov 18

    Yes, and remove all their public funding

    Wendy Miles Wendy Miles 2:43 pm 01 Nov 18

    Stephen Page-Murray I have a more moderate approach. Every child, regardless of where they are schooled should receive an equal allowance. If it costs $1000 a year to educate a public school child then all private school children should be allocated $1000 each a year and not one cent more. That is equality.

    Jenni Zimoch Jenni Zimoch 3:51 pm 01 Nov 18

    If private schools want to pick and choose who they accept and also charge massive fees every year,then no they shouldn't be given equal money from the government.

    Kerryn Price Kerryn Price 4:42 pm 01 Nov 18

    Except the parents do pay their taxes and have made a choice of the best school for their child and pay the fees over and above what they have already paid in tax.

    Wendy Miles Wendy Miles 4:42 pm 01 Nov 18

    Stephen Page-Murray can we agree to disagree on this one?👵🏻🤔

    Warwick Penn Bradly Warwick Penn Bradly 5:59 pm 01 Nov 18

    Wendy Miles disagree. Private schools should receive no government funding whatsoever.

    Rauny Worm Rauny Worm 6:16 am 02 Nov 18

    Wrong debate..

    Pia Hughes Pia Hughes 7:12 am 02 Nov 18

    Lynne Audsley Thank you. Wendy Miles is completely clueless with her response.

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