The Discrimination Amendment Bill 2018 (ACT) (the “Bill”) was introduced to the ACT Parliament’s House of Assembly on 1 November 2018, by Minister for Justice, Consumer Affairs and Road Safety, Shane Rattenbury, and Minister for Social Inclusion and Equality, Andrew Barr.
The Bill proposes to make amendments to the Discrimination Act 1991 (ACT) (the “Act”).
As indicated in the Bill’s Explanatory Statement (the “ES”), the Bill:
By inserting a new section 32(2), the Bill clarifies that a general exception for religious bodies in section 32 will not apply to employment or contracting; or the admission, treatment and continued enrolment of students; in religious educational institutions.
The Bill will introduce amendments to the Act to repeal the exceptions in section 33 of the Act that “allow educational institutions conducted for religious purposes to discriminate against students and employees/contractors in relation to any protected attribute, including sexuality and gender identity”.
The Bill’s ES indicates it also:
It also amends an existing limited exception in relation to students, which allows religious educational institutions to discriminate in relation to admission of a student, but only on the grounds of religious conviction of the student (or their family).
In his Second Reading speech, Minister Barr said:
In November 2017, the Federal Government announced the appointment of an Expert Panel to examine whether Australian law (Commonwealth, State and Territory) adequately protects the human right to freedom of religion, with the Hon Philip Ruddock being appointed Chair of the Panel (the “Ruddock Review”). After receiving more than 15,500 submissions the Panel delivered its Report to the Prime Minister on 18 May 2018.
Thefor the Review included:
In aof May 2018, the Panel commented:
The full report from the Ruddock Review has not yet been made public.
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