Tasmania’s lower house has passed a law to allow religious schools to refuse to educate children based on religion.
The proposed changes to the state’s Anti-Discrimination Act would allow schools to consider faith when making enrolment decisions.
Such a move was potentially dangerous, said Tasmania’s anti-discrimination commissioner Robin Banks.
Shadow Attorney-General Lara Giddings told State Parliament last night she opposed the exemption.
“I believe it does provide opportunity for discrimination on grounds other than religions,” Ms Giddings said.
Education Minister Jeremy Rocklifff rejected that notion.
“This bill does not infringe on rights to freely exercise a religion,” he said.
Shortly after the legislation passed, Tasmania’s Gay and Lesbian Rights Group issued a statement saying they would lobby the Upper House to reject it.
Spokesman Rodney Croome said it reaffirmed his opinion it was a “bigots’ charter”.
“It will allow prejudiced school authorities to turn away students for any number of tawdry reasons dressed up as ‘religious belief’,” the statement said.
The legislation will be scrutinised by the independent dominated Upper House as early as next month.