Public statement: EOA reforms to religious discrimination based on sexuality and gender
16 September 2021
Today the Victorian Government announced plans to reform the Equal Opportunity Act to better protect the LGBTIQ+ community from discrimination.
The proposed changes will limit and remove exceptions that presently allow religious bodies and schools to sack or refuse to hire LGBTIQ+ employees based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or other protected attribute.
The Equal Opportunity Amendment (Religious Exceptions) Bill 2021 seeks to strike a balance between the fundamental right of faith-based organisations to practice their religion and equality for the LGBTIQ+ community. Faith-based organisations will still be able to make employment decisions based on an employee’s religious beliefs where these are an inherent requirement of the job, such as in the case of a religious studies teacher.
If passed, the new legislation will also mean faith-based organisations and schools that receive government funding to provide services such as counselling, homelessness support or hiring out community facilities, will also not be able to refuse to provide those services to people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The Government has committed to consulting with faith-based groups, education bodies and LGBTIQ+ organisations to inform the drafting of the legislation, and the Commission looks forward to the eventual passage of the proposed reforms through the Parliament and into law.