Anti-discrimination bill sidelines LGBTI people
Independent MP for Sydney Alex Greenwich (pictured) has called on the Federal Government to justify its stance on religious exemptions in Australia’s anti-discrimination law.
Greenwich says he wants Prime Minister Julia Gillard to justify allowing publically funded religious service providers to discriminate against groups including gays and lesbians.
The move comes as a bill designed to consolidate Commonwealth anti-discrimination laws is under review by the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee.
The Committee’s report is due February 18.
According to a SMH report today, the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) says Gillard has assured religious groups they will have the freedom to discriminate against homosexuals under any new anti-discrimination legislation.
“The Prime Minister has a duty to protect those affected by discrimination, not those practising it,” Greenwich said.
“By allowing hospitals and schools to practice discrimination the Prime Minister is supporting breeding grounds for homophobia.”
Greenwich told GayNewsNetwork he believes religious organisations that receive public funding to provide a public service in health, education or any other sphere should not discriminate when it comes to service delivery and employment.
“Religious bodies will often tender to receive public funding to manage service delivery, and in some areas can be the only health or education service provider,” Greenwich said.
“For example, a hospital has the ability to reject the application of a much needed specialist based on their sexuality, even though hiring that individual would be in the best interest of the area.
“Similarly a school's top performing teacher could be fired, not based on quality of education provided, but on their sexuality.
“This blatant discrimination not only affects the individuals discriminated against, but entire communities who miss out on skills based on the prejudice of the tax-payer funded service provider."
Greenwich said the grassroots of the Australian Labor Party “who believe in fairness and equal opportunity to jobs” should be “up in arms” over the bill.
In a submission to the Senate Committee, Greenwich said discrimination in law did not aim to address discrimination in the private sphere, “and has very little impact on the right to religious freedom”.
“Discrimination in [the] public sphere such as employment or service provision should not be sanctioned in law through exemptions,” Greenwich said.
Meanwhile, NSW Greens MP Cate Faehrmann wants Premier Barry O'Farrell to withdraw his submission to the Senate Committee because of its support for the continuation of exemptions for religious organisations.
“It isn't just the Prime Minister who is bending over backwards to appease extreme elements of the Christian lobby like ACL,” Faehrmann said.
“Barry O'Farrell needs to stand up to his anti-gay and anti-equality Attorney-General Greg Smith. It's outrageous that the government is actively working against LGBTI people and their families in NSW,” Faehrmann said.
To view the bill and submissions to the Senate Committee, go here.