Wednesday, February 01, 2023

Australia Proposes New Antidiscrimination Requirements For Religious Educational Institutions

On January 27, the Australian Law Reform Commission released a 54-page Consultation Paper on Religious Educational Institutions and Anti-Discrimination Laws (full text). The Commission summarized the Paper in a press release:

The Australian Law Reform Commission seeks stakeholder submissions on proposals to change the way Commonwealth anti-discrimination law applies to religious schools and other educational institutions.

The Consultation Paper sets out four general propositions supported by 14 technical proposals for reform. If adopted, these would:

make discrimination against students on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity, marital or relationship status, or pregnancy in schools and other religious educational institutions unlawful, by removing exceptions currently available under federal law,

protect teachers and other school staff from discrimination on the grounds of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital or relationship status, or pregnancy, by removing similar exceptions, and

allow religious schools to maintain their religious character by permitting them to:

give preference to prospective staff on religious grounds where the teaching, observance, or practice of religion is a part of their role (and it is not discriminatory on other grounds); and

require all staff to respect the educational institution’s religious ethos.

Law and Religion Australia has more extensive reporting on the proposal.