The New South Wales Government has been warned that attempting to stop religious schools from hiring or firing staff because of their adherence to “Christian ethos”, including sexuality, would be a breach of religious freedoms. Source: Sydney Morning Herald.
Religious groups, including Catholic Schools NSW, Christian Schools Australia and the Presbyterian Church, all argue that existing exemptions within the state’s Anti-Discrimination Act, which allow private schools to discriminate on the basis of sexuality, marital status or gender, should be retained because of their religious views.
The demands from religious organisations to keep the exemptions in place signal a looming test for the Minns Government as it seeks to balance their concerns with a push from key crossbench MP Alex Greenwich to prevent gay students and teachers from being expelled or fired by religious schools on the basis of their sexuality.
The Minns Government ordered the NSW Law Reform Commission to review the state’s decades-old Anti-Discrimination Act in July last year as Mr Greenwich was preparing to introduce his omnibus Equality Bill into Parliament. His bill is due to be debated in Parliament next month.
Many submissions to the review argued against maintaining the exemptions enjoyed by non-government schools, calling them outdated and harmful to gay and transgender students and staff.
Catholic Schools NSW argued its right to “employ staff who can promote the religious character of a Catholic school” was “critical to maintaining the institutional integrity” of the sector, saying some of the terms of reference for the review raised “issues and serious concerns”.
The submission argued that the right of parents “to determine the religious and moral education of their children” was a fundamental human right under the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, to which Australia is a signatory.
Religious groups argue for right to hire, fire staff based on sexuality (By Michael McGowan, Sydney Morning Herald)