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Remove religious exceptions from anti-discrimination laws

This petition had 1,100 supporters

It is time for exceptions to Commonwealth and NSW anti-discrimination laws, which allow religious organisations to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans* (LGBT) people, to be removed.

The Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Act 2013, which provided LGBTI people with anti-discrimination protection under federal law for the first time, was an historic achievement. Nevertheless, it included wide-ranging exceptions allowing religious organisations to discriminate against LGBT people [NB the exceptions do not apply with respect to intersex discrimination, or to people accessing aged care services].

The NSW Anti-Discrimination Act 1977, which provides protections against discrimination on the basis of homosexuality and being transgender (but not bisexuality or intersex status), also includes wide-ranging exceptions for religious organisations.

This means that it is currently lawful for:

- Religious schools to discriminate against LGBT teachers and students

- Religious-operated hospitals and community services to discriminate against LGBT employees and LGBT people seeking to access these services

- Religious-operated aged care facilities to discriminate against LGBT employees.

This is both unjust and unnecessary. A person’s sexual orientation or gender identity is irrelevant to whether that person is a good teacher, doctor or aged care or community service worker.

A person’s sexual orientation or gender identity should not result in them being treated unfairly as a student, or someone accessing health or community services.

The ongoing operation of religious exceptions – beyond those necessary for the conduct of religious ceremonies or the appointment of religious office-holders (e.g. ministers of religion) – represents one of the last major hurdles to full LGBT equality in Australia. In 2014, it is time for this hurdle to be removed.

We call on the Commonwealth Attorney-General, Senator the Hon George Brandis, and the NSW Attorney-General, the Hon Greg Smith MP, to act to repeal the wide-ranging religious exceptions in the Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Act 1984 and the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act 1977.

 This petition is part of the NSW Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby’s No Homophobia, No Exceptions campaign in 2014. To stay up to date with the campaign, please

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