Australia: Renewed calls for WA to update anti-discrimination laws

Advocates for Western Australia’s LGBT community have launched a campaign to repeal the last piece of anti-homosexual legislation under State law.

They are calling on the McGowan Government to close a loophole in the State’s Equal Opportunity Act which allows private schools to sack LGBTI teachers, expel LGBTI students and refuse to enrol children from same-sex families.

Two years ago, Foundation Christian College in Mandurah caused community outrage after it threatened the removal of a seven year old student when it discovered her father was in a same-sex relationship.

Spokesperson for the Same-Sex Parents Association, Maxine Drake, said special exemptions from the Act which apply only to religious schools were the broadest of their kind in the country and were being used to target LGBTI staff and students.

“Under WA’s Equal Opportunity Act, church schools have sweeping powers to sack any staff member just because they are gay or lesbian. Anyone at all, including a geography teacher, gardener, school accountant or music instructor – it is indiscriminate.

“WA’s extraordinary loophole for church schools is so wide and poorly written, it even allows students to be expelled if they have gay parents,” Drake said.

Drake said that by contrast, Tasmania’s Anti-Discrimination Act, which was the most recently enacted in Australia, did not permit any discrimination against LGBTI staff and students.

“Tasmania completely abolished religious exemptions for schools 19 years ago and its Act is the Gold Standard around the country which WA should rise up to.

“In other mainland states, exemptions for religious schools are often defined only to apply to staff members whose job has a specific religious purpose.” Drake said. Read more via Out in Perth