Teachers have warned that private schools that provide no religious education can hire and fire educators for being gay in some states under existing laws.
The principals of Australia’s richest and most prestigious Anglican schools in NSW have written to MPs warning that exemptions from anti-discrimination laws for religious schools must be retained to ensure teachers reflect the schools religious “ethos and values”.
But teachers have told The New Daily that the blanket exemptions in NSW actually allow any private provider, including training colleges and non-denominational schools, to sack gay people.
They also warn any new federal laws could extend rights to fire gay people in some states that do not currently exist.
“You could have a tailors’ college or a business college that could sack you for being gay. Or for being disabled. Or for being in a de facto relationship,” Independent Education Union secretary Chris Watt said.
“Or even women seeking IVF treatment, which is against the teaching of the Catholic Church. I don’t think the general public have any idea of the overreach or how these things work in real life.”
Private schools in some states did not have the right to sack gay teachers, Mr Watt said – and they seemed to operate without difficulty.
“At the moment Western Australia, Tasmania and Queensland don’t have the exemptions that other states do,” he said.
Those schools don’t seem to have had any impediment to operating.”
“The IEUA does not accept that the faith-based school communities in Australia are so fragile that they require exemptions from discrimination laws.”
The union representing educators in private schools has also warned that if every gay and lesbian teacher was sacked today, schools would be unable to function.
“It’s the don’t ask, don’t tell approach,” he said.
“There are many gay and lesbian teachers employed in schools. Are employers seriously proposing that all of these people’s jobs should be at risk?”