The Prime Minister has assured conservative faith-based institutions that they’ll still be able to turn away gays and lesbians under proposed new anti-discrimination laws.
Under current law, government funded religious schools and hospitals have the privilege to turn away teachers and students from their institutions for not sharing their beliefs.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Julia Gillard and her Labor Party cohorts met up with the head of the Australian Christian Lobby, Jim Wallace.
“She has no intention of restricting freedom of religion,” says Wallace in regards to the legal rights of religious groups when hiring and firing.
The PM previously promised Wallace she would protect the institution of marriage as being between a man and a woman, as discovered in a filmed interview prior to her election in 2010.
The NSW Government has made a submission to the Human Rights and Anti-discrimination Bill 2012that proposes that the current law remain intact, continuing to provide a religious exemption for institutions who wish to dismiss staff and students who don’t stand on the same moral ground.
Sydney MP Alex Greenwich has announced that he will write to the PM “seeking her justification for allowing publicly funded religious providers free-range to discriminate against groups including gay and lesbian Australians.”
“The Prime Minister has a duty to protect those affected by discrimination, not those practising it,” he says.
“By allowing hospitals and schools to practice discrimination, the Prime Minister is supporting breeding grounds for homophobia.”
Greenwich will also request that Gillard meet with any who are suffering “as a result of the discriminatory practices of tax-payer funded religious service providers.”
Attorney-General Nicola Roxon released the draft bill late last year and received more than 3,000 submissions in response. The bill will mesh together five separate pieces of legislation into a single Act, aiming to strengthen protections for sexual orientation and gender diversity under federal law.
Openly-gay federal Finance Minister Penny Wong will push the bill through parliament. Once the bill is passed, older LGBTI and gender diverse people will no longer be discriminated against and refused refuge in aged care homes based on their sexuality and gender orientation.
Jim Wallace has made the Australian Christian Lobby’s view clear, but a wide range of other religious denominations have not yet stated their position.