Discriminatory Bill passes Tasmania Lower House
A Bill which proposed changes to Tasmania’s Anti Discrimination Act will make it easier for faith-based organisations to discriminate against LGBTI people.
The Bill could potentially limit the education choices of 1000s of LGBTI youth as it would allow schools to consider faith when making enrolment decisions.
Tasmania's anti-discrimination commissioner Robin Banks told ABC News such a move was potentially dangerous.
Rodney Croome, Tasmania's Gay and Lesbian Rights Group spokesperson described the Tasmanian’s government’s backing of exemptions to the Act as disappointing, particularly given growing community concerns regarding the Bill’s ability to allow religious discrimination.
"The Government has failed to allay legitimate community concerns about its attempt to water down the Anti-Discrimination Act," said Croome, who described the exemptions as a ‘bigots’ charter’.
“It will allow prejudiced school authorities to turn away students for any number of tawdry reasons dressed up as 'religious belief'. It is is also likely to breach the Tasmanian Constitution according to Australia's leading constitutional law academic, Professor George Williams." Croome said. "We will now work with other community groups to ensure the Upper House knocks out this bad law."
Croome called for all fair-minded Tasmanians to join him in defending the human rights of the state’s citizens.
Concerns expressed about the exemption during the debate include:
It may allow discrimination against students with two mums or two dads, and against students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex.
It reduces the choice of Tasmanian parents about where they send their children to school.
As in other states, it will lead to lengthy and expensive court battles for religious schools where they will have to explain what their religious beliefs actually are
It is likely to violate section 46 of the Tasmanian Constitution which protects every Tasmanian citizen from discrimination on the grounds of religion.
The earliest the Bill can be debated in the Upper House is the end of May.