New bill introduced for further protection of LGBTQI+ community

New bill introduced for further protection of LGBTQI+ community

27 October 2021 By Lauren Croft
LGBTQI+ community

Landmark reforms have been introduced into Victorian parliament, as the Andrews government continues to put measures in place to protect the state’s LGBTQI+ community.

The Equal Opportunity (Religious Exceptions) Amendment Bill 2021, introduced on Wednesday (27 October), will better protect LGBTIQ+ Victorians working within religious organisations and schools. The bill will mean that discrimination on the basis of sexuality, marital status, gender identity or other protected attributes will not be permitted.

Religious organisations and schools will only be able to make employment decisions based on an employee’s religious beliefs where these are inherent to the job. Religious bodies and schools will still be able to practice their faith, teach their beliefs and set the religious ethos within their organisation.

The reforms will also mean religious bodies that receive government funding to provide services will also not be able to refuse to provide those services to people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

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The government undertook “extensive” consultations with LGBTQI+ groups and educational bodies to ensure the new laws were up to scratch for all parties, Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes said.

“Every Victorian deserves to live without fear of discrimination – regardless of who they are or who they love,” she said.

“Our extensive consultation has been crucial to making sure these laws recognise the important needs of faith communities and protect Victorians from discrimination based on who they are.”

Additionally, intersex Victorians are now also protected against discrimination under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, with sex characteristics now included as a protected attribute under the act for the first time in history.

Amendments updating outdated definitions of gender identity and sexual orientation under the act have also commenced – and Minister for Equality Martin Foley said that this reflects a growing understanding and awareness of the LGBTQI+ community in Victoria.

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“We celebrate our intersex community and acknowledge the challenges they face,” he said.

“That’s why we’re taking action to better protect intersex and LGBTIQ+ Victorians against discrimination.”

New bill introduced for further protection of LGBTQI+ community
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