Supporting growth and sustainability of trans and gender diverse peer support across Victoria. Supported by the Victorian Government.
TGV expresses extreme concern about the current legislative package under consideration, relating to the proposed Religious Discrimination Bill and potential associated amendments and changes to other legislation such as the Sex Discrimination Act.
It is vitally important that religious people and people of faith are protected from being discriminated against on the basis of their faith. However, the current proposals go further than this and create potential to license discrimination against other minorities and marginalised groups.
The potential for LGBTIQ+ people to be discriminated against in extreme ways, including in workplace and education settings and as drastic as termination of employment or expulsion from schools, could become protected as a ‘statement of belief’ reflective of faith - despite the fact that this undermines some existing state and territory protections from discrimination.
Further announcements made this week indicate an especially acute impact for trans and gender diverse people. While new amendments have been proposed to alleviate concerns surrounding the Bill, these measures fail to afford trans and gender diverse people the protections necessary to prevent discrimination.
In particular, we are deeply concerned by proposed amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act Section 38(3) that fail to protect trans and gender diverse students at faith based schools from expulsion on the basis of their gender identity. No student should face expulsion because of who they are, and no young person should be forced to move schools as a result of discrimination.
Harmful statements which are the drivers of stigma, isolation, and poor mental health outcomes including suicide risk - such as healthcare or support workers telling disabled people or people with HIV that their conditions are divine punishment - could become defensible as ‘statements of belief’ under the proposed legislation.
The impacts of the proposed bill as it stands would be far reaching, divisive and dangerous, and cause discrimination and harm to a wide range of people - not just in the LGBTIQ+ community, but to women, disabled people, people living with HIV, people from diverse racial and cultural backgrounds, and even people of faith themselves. We have to also consider that there are many LGBTIQ+ people of faith who may face exclusion from their own religious communities as a result of this bill.
Ultimately, while it is vital that religious people and people of faith have the freedom to practice their religion, it is also important that other marginalised people have freedom and protection from discrimination. The current proposals create and promote opportunities for unacceptable discrimination that will cause harm to already at risk communities, and contribute to drivers of poor economic, health, and mental health outcomes amongst those communities.
Equality Australia - “Call on your MP to oppose the Religious Discrimination Bill” online tool: https://equalityaustralia.org.au/take-action/
Just.Equal - “Tell Moderate Liberals to Vote Against the Religious Discrimination Bill” online tool: https://www.equal.org.au/tell_liberals_to_kill_the_bill
Independent Education Union - “Discrimination has no place in our schools” petition: https://www.megaphone.org.au/petitions/discrimination-has-no-place-in-our-schools
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