Legislation restricting religious schools and organisations in the employment of people who share common values was today introduced in the Victorian parliament by the Andrews Government.
The legislation puts the Labor Government at odds with Federal Labor leader Bill Shorten who said he was not interested in ‘telling religious organisations how to run their faith-based organisations’.
Australian Christian Lobby Victorian Director Dan Flynn said if passed, the Equal Opportunity (Religious Exceptions) Bill 2016, will significantly restrict religious schools’ freedom to form communities based on beliefs and values.
The effect of the bill will be to create legal uncertainty for churches that appoint non-clergy staff. Where a church prefers a Christian over a non-Christian they may have to defend this appointment before a Government tribunal.
“This Bill will attack the ethos of Muslim, Jewish and Christian schools,” Mr Flynn said.
“It is appropriate that schools can employ staff that promote and adhere to their values.
“Christian schools and organisations merely wish to have the same freedoms in employing staff that apply to political parties.
“Political parties can refuse to employ people who do not agree with their objectives and policies. Fair enough. So why is this Bill only seeking to limit the freedoms in Christian organisations and not political parties or other clubs?
“Ironically, the Bill is discriminatory because it singles out religious bodies.
“The ACL calls on the Victorian Government to withdraw the bill, uphold freedom of association in religious schools and remove legal uncertainty for churches."
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