LHA welcomes the Australian Government’s move to prevent educational institutions discriminating against students and staff based on sexual orientation, gender, relationship status or pregnancy.
The Australian Government has stated it will reform anti-discrimination laws so that religious educational institutions:
- do not discriminate against students or staff based on sexual orientation, gender identity, marital or relationship status or pregnancy,
- and can build a community of faith by giving preference, in good faith, to persons of the same religion as the educational institution in the selection of staff.
The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) has consulted on changes to laws to implement this commitment and will report to the Attorney-General on 21 April 2023. Details are available at the ALRC website.
The focus of LHA’s submission is the need to eliminate discrimination in educational institutions to protect the health and wellbeing of LGBTIQ+ people, especially our young LGBTIQ+ people.
A disproportionate number of LGBTIQ+ people experience poorer health outcomes compared with the broader population. These adverse health outcomes are directly related to stigma, prejudice, discrimination and abuse experienced due to being part of diverse LGBTIQ+ communities.
It is vital for all schools to provide supportive and inclusive environments—regardless of sexuality or gender. Any exposure to stigma, discrimination and other body, gender and sexuality shaming in educational institutions may have extensive and long-lasting negative health and wellbeing impacts.
When faith-based institutions to refuse to hire or fire LGBTIQ+ staff, it is not only discriminatory towards LGBTIQ+ staff but creates institutions without staff with lived experience to understand the needs of LGBTIQ+ students.
Over recent years, LHA has made several submissions to government consultations on this topic. We have raised concern about the impact on LGBTIQ+ people and their families due to the prolonged national dialogue on this issue, including the perception that the human rights of LGBTIQ+ people are open to change by public debate.