Delay to ALRC religious schools inquiry leaves LGBTQ students and teachers exposed to discrimination

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) is seriously concerned about an 8-month delay on the outcome of the Australian Law Reform Commission’s (ALRC) inquiry into the legal exceptions that allow religious schools to discriminate against LGBTQ students and teachers.

The ALRC’s final report was due to be handed to Commonwealth Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus today (21 April). Late yesterday, the due date was pushed back to 31 December.

‘Any delay that leaves LGBTQ students and staff open to discrimination simply for being who they are is troubling. The length of this extension is particularly concerning as it means vital protections will likely not be passed this year,’ PIAC Director of Policy and Advocacy, Alastair Lawrie said.

‘No LGBTQ student should be forced to enter the classroom in Term 1 of 2024 fearful of discrimination.’

The majority of Australian jurisdictions – including Tasmania, Queensland, the NT, ACT and Victoria – already protect LGBTQ students against discrimination.

Four jurisdictions – Tasmania, the ACT, Victoria and NT – protect LGBTQ staff, too. Western Australia has promised to protect both, while Queensland has committed to fully protect LGBTQ teachers.

‘These reforms are not radical or new. Tasmania has protected LGBTQ students and teachers for more than two decades. It’s beyond time for the Commonwealth to catch up,’ Lawrie added.

‘We urge the ALRC to complete its inquiry as quickly as possible, and well before the revised deadline.

‘It’s time for Attorney-General Dreyfus, and the Albanese Government, to step up and pass amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act before the end of the year.’

‘Religious schools – which receive significant public funding – should not have a free pass to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.’

Media contact:
PIAC Media and Communications Manager, Danielle Buhagiar: 0478 739 280.

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