Just a few months ago we wrote about how being queer can get you fired from your job if you work in a religious school or institution. Those workplaces have been allowed to “discriminate in good faith” (an actual phrase in the Sex Discrimination Act) “in order to avoid injury to the religious susceptibilities of adherents of that religion or creed.”
All that could finally be about to change, thanks to more than 10 years of campaigning from unionists, and especially members of the Independent Education Union.
In an announcement this week, religious schools in Victoria will be prohibited from sacking or refusing to employ teachers because of their sexuality, gender or marital status under changes to anti-discrimination laws proposed by the Andrews Government. These reforms will be a game-changer if they go ahead, says Deb James, General Secretary of IEU Victoria/Tasmania.
“This is a major boost for the rights of education staff. It’ll help promote inclusivity, reform cultures and improve the lives of countless dedicated workers.”
“This legislation addresses schools where both staff and students have been forced to hide aspects of their identity or are made to feel unwelcome, as well as workplaces that actively discriminate in employment or promotion opportunities.”
Deb adds that in some cases, that discrimination is related to sexual orientation or gender identity – in others, it’s about de-facto relationships, marital or parental status or faith.
But here’s the catch – the laws haven’t passed yet, and we know the conservative Christian lobby will fight to have the proposal watered down. Already, Christian Schools Australia is opposing the bill.
These reforms are vital; show your support by signing this Megaphone petition to Members of the Victorian Parliament. It’s been organised by IEU and Equality Australia, and demands that MPs ensure all workers are treated equally wherever they work, study or access goods and services, regardless of who they are or who they love.