The Marshall Government has encouraged South Australians to have their say on plans to reduce discrimination against members of the LGBTIQ+ community.
Under the Equal Opportunity Act, it is against the law to discriminate against anyone based on their particular personal characteristics, but religious bodies have certain exceptions.
Attorney-General Vickie Chapman said the Marshall Government was planning to reform these laws to strike a better balance between equality and religious freedom.
“The current law allows some bodies established for religious purposes to discriminate on the basis of sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or intersex status,” Ms Chapman said.
“This is so that they can operate within the doctrines of the religion generally or to avoid offending members of their religion.
“While these freedoms are important, they need to be balanced against the rights of individuals to fairness and equality, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”
The Bill would remove the general exception to discrimination law for religious bodies that provide essential services, including children’s education, health care, aged care, emergency accommodation, public housing, and foster care placement.
However, important religious freedoms would be kept by allowing these organisations some other exceptions such as:
- When directly practicing or observing religion eg. prayer or Holy Communion
- When hiring staff for specific religious roles eg. chaplains· When hiring staff for religious schools, provided criteria is met, and
- In the ordination or appointment of priests, ministers of religion or members of a religious order, or their training or education.
“As a community, South Australia is inclusive and characterised by our willingness to accept others – regardless of their cultural background or sexual orientation,” Ms Chapman said.
“We’ve come a long way in removing elements in our law that are discriminatory towards the LGBTIQ+ community – most recently with a Bill introduced to State Parliament eliminating the so-called ‘gay panic’ defence.
“As we continue to strive towards a society that is inclusive and accepting of difference, our legislation needs to reflect these values, while also protecting the religious freedoms that are important to so many,” Ms Chapman said.
The proposed bill is currently out for public consultation. For more information and to comment, visit yourSAy https://yoursay.sa.gov.au/religious-exceptions-changes before November 27.