Monday, February 25, 2013

In Australia, Parliament Debates Scope of Religious Exemptions In Proposed Anti-Discrimination Law Revisions

The Australian reported last week on the controversy over the scope of exemptions for religious organizations in proposed Australian civil rights legislation.  Labor proposed a bill-- the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012-- to consolidate Australia's five existing anti-discrimination laws. Under the proposal, exemptions for religious organizations were to be largely retained, except for government-funded providers of care for the elderly where there is concern about discrimination against same-sex couples seeking to enter care facilities.  However the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee in a report released Feb 21 (full text) has recommended much narrower religious exemptions in the new law. (Full text of recommendations).  Opposition members of the Senate in turn, concerned about protecting Church schools, called on the Attorney General to retain current exemptions in the new law.