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Religious have no right to judgment on sexual orientation or gender identity

By Robin Banks, Anja Hilkemeijer and Rodney Croome - posted Thursday, 6 December 2018


As Tasmanians, we are bemused, frustrated and deeply concerned by the national debate about whether to ban discrimination against LGBTI students and teachers in faith-based schools.

Such discrimination has been against the law in Tasmania for twenty years.

We are not aware of any problems caused by our enlightened approach.

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No school has complained of its religious freedom being impinged.

The sky hasn't fallen in.

But there has been a noticeable increase in inclusion of LGBTI people in religious school communities.

Students and teachers report to us that they feel safer and more accepted than in the past.

The most pronounced shift has been in Catholic schools, some of which have conducted training for teachers in how to tackle anti-LGBTI prejudice, as well as classroom programs about LGBTI acceptance.

But schools from other denominations have also become more accepting.

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Of course, prejudice can be still be found in religious school communities, as it can across the community.

But at least there is a legislative framework to hold schools to account if and when they have policies and practices based on prejudice.

Tasmania's law also protects LGBTI staff and clients in other religious organisations such as hospitals, charities, support services and welfare agencies.

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About the Authors

Robin Banks is the former Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commissioner, a human rights lawyers and a PhD candidate in discrimination law at the University of Tasmania.

Anja Hilkemeijer is a lecturer in law at the University of Tasmania Law School, specialising in human rights and religious freedom.

Rodney Croome is the National Convenor of Australian Marriage Equality and was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2003 for his gay rights advocacy. He is co-author of Why vs Why: Gay Marriage.

Other articles by these Authors

All articles by Robin Banks
All articles by Anja Hilkemeijer
All articles by Rodney Croome

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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