Religious Educational Institutions and Anti-Discrimination Laws: Consultation Paper (2023)

The Australian Law Reform Commission seeks stakeholder submissions on proposals to change the way Commonwealth anti-discrimination law applies to religious schools and other educational institutions.

The Consultation Paper sets out four general propositions supported by 14 technical proposals for reform. If adopted, these would:

  • make discrimination against students on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity, marital or relationship status, or pregnancy in schools and other religious educational institutions unlawful, by removing exceptions currently available under federal law,
  • protect teachers and other school staff from discrimination on the grounds of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital or relationship status, or pregnancy, by removing similar exceptions, and
  • allow religious schools to maintain their religious character by permitting them to:
    • give preference to prospective staff on religious grounds where the teaching, observance, or practice of religion is a part of their role (and it is not discriminatory on other grounds); and
    • require all staff to respect the educational institution’s religious ethos.

Submissions close 24 February 2023.

Download the Consultation Paper.

On 4 November 2022, Commonwealth Attorney-General, the Hon Mark Dreyfus MP KC, asked the ALRC to recommend reforms to the law to implement the Government’s policy commitments in this area in a way that is consistent with Australia’s international legal obligations.

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