Rainbow friendly laws
Audit of ACT laws to ensure they are rainbow friendly. Chief Minister of the ACT and Australia’s first openly gay head of government, Andrew Barr, has ordered an audit of the Territory’s law to identify any potentially harmful impacts on the queer community.
This comes following last year’s heated debate around the legal loophole that effectively allowed for religious schools to discriminate against queer teachers and students. Andrew Barr announced that his intention was to ensure that any other laws that could potentially cause damage to the rainbow community were identified and negated, as well as promoting Canberra’s reputation as a ‘human rights jurisdiction’. The audit is being conducted by the Office for LGBTIQ Affairs.
Discrimination loophole in ACT Chief Minister’s sights
In related news, ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr also announced he plans to crack down on the legal loophole that allows religious schools to discriminate against staff on the basis of sexuality.
The loophole is created by the conflicting views found in the Human Rights Act 2004 and the Discrimination Act 1991. Andrew Barr says his plans will go a step further than those of the Morrison government, which has promised to end discrimination of gay students but not discrimination of gay teachers and staff.
The proposed changes to ACT law were previously suggested by Labor backbencher Suzanne Orr. In an emotional debate, Orr argued, ‘whether a teacher works for a government, independent or private school they should be valued for their commitment to education, not degraded for their personal identity’. The proposed changes will likely prove controversial for advocates of religious freedoms.