Australia to review the religious exemptions for schools in federal anti-discrimination law
Students are seen at Our Lady of Mercy College Burraneer in Sydney, Australia. The government has asked the Australian Law Reform Commission to review the country’s religious exemptions for schools in federal anti-discrimination law. (Photo: Facebook)
A Christian group in Australia has welcomed a move by the government of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese as the “first step” to ensure religious freedom in the country.
“The pre-election promise by the Albanese government is coming to fruition with the much-needed review of religious exemptions for educational institutions by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC),” Christian Voice Australia said in a statement on Nov. 4.
Federal attorney-general Mark Dreyfus has asked the ALRC to review the country’s religious exemptions for schools in federal anti-discrimination law on Nov. 4.
Dreyfus said that the government is making the attempt to fulfill its pre-election commitment.
“Before the election, we committed to tasking the ALRC with advising on the best way to protect staff in religious schools from discrimination at work, while maintaining the right of religious schools to preference people of their faith in the selection of staff,” he said.
“Today’s referral delivers on that commitment.”
The ALRC is expected to report by next April and any proposed legislation is anticipated by the middle of that year, reports say.
Christian Voice said the previous government of John Morrison “drastically failed to deliver on the promised protection for religious schools and indeed left any possible reforms to the protection of religious exemptions for educational institutions to the 11th hour.”
It ended up as one of the most failed and prominent political promises of the previous government, the group said.
Christian Voice claimed that schools, in particular Christian schools, were unprotected against discrimination and ended up as the ‘punching bag’ for various anti-Christian and ideologically driven LGBTIQA+ organizations.
“The protection of staff in religious schools, especially Christian schools, from discrimination at work, while maintaining the right of religious schools to preference people of their faith in the selection of staff, is a fundamental cornerstone in a Judeo-Christian worldview,” said Greg Bondar, national director of Christian Voice.
Any proposed legislation must be drafted to ensure that Christians in education have the right to live their lives free of discrimination if we are to avoid the ‘Essendon Syndrome’ infiltrating our educational system.
“Discrimination in schools is best avoided if LGBTIQA+ students did not challenge or undermine the ethos, ethics, and morals of Christian schools,” added Bondar.
Christian Voice Australia said it awaits steps two (protection at work, especially sport) and steps three (protection of Christian free speech) before the next federal election, in or before 2025.
The group warned that if the Labor government fails to deliver on religious discrimination and freedom, especially for persecuted Christians and Jews, like the previous government, it will face the same fate.
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