Legislation making it unlawful for schools to have the freedom to maintain their religious values was today introduced into the Victorian parliament by the Greens.

Australian Christian Lobby Victorian Director Dan Flynn said if passed, the Equal Opportunity Amendment (Equality for Students) Bill 2016, will significantly restrict religious schools’ freedom of association to form communities based on religious beliefs and values.

“The right to enroll students that share the faith and ethos of the religious school has been a fundamental freedom of association for religious schools,” Mr Flynn said.

“It sits alongside the school’s freedom to recruit staff who adhere to the school’s faith and ethos.

“It is absolutely appropriate that schools be able to preference enrolments for children who adhere to their values.

“Religious schools should have the right to preserve their ethos and culture. “This Bill will attack the ethos of Muslim, Jewish and Christian schools.

“In a diverse and tolerant society, there should be room for religious schools to maintain their ethos

“Parents who disagree with a school’s enrollment policy are free to go elsewhere,” Mr Flynn said.

“The defeat of the bill will ensure schools can maintain their religious character and thereby maintain diversity in the types of schools available in Victoria,” he said

“If the Andrews Government decided to back this bill, it would put it at odds with Federal Labor after Bill Shorten recently said that, ‘We are not interested in telling religious organisations how to run their faith-based organisations’.

“The Australian Christian Lobby calls on the Victorian Government to not bend to the Greens and vote to defeat the anti-religion bill.”

Debate has been adjourned until August.

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