Expert criticises report on proposed changes to anti-discrimination laws

Expert criticises report on proposed changes to anti-discrimination laws

The Federal Government is negotiating how to implement the changes recommended by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) report on anti-discrimination law reform, with a bill tabled in parliament late last week.

Topics: anti-discrimination legislation, law reform, marginalisation, religion, sexuality, youth

Professor Anna Hickey-Moody, expert in youth studies

"A year later than anticipated, this report recommends Australia should ‘narrow the circumstances’ in which religious discrimination occurs, not outlaw discrimination.

"The proposed changes offer very little protection for same sex attracted youth in religious schools.

“Despite the fact that the ALRC state 'students are at the centre of this inquiry', the methods they have employed unfairly marginalise youth experiences.

"Over 40% of Australian secondary students attend religious schools.

“However, in assessing the impact of the current religious discrimination legislation, the ALRC spoke mainly to adults.

“They assessed 428 written submissions, only one of which was from a minor.

“The ALRC also undertook 131 interviews with consultees, all of whom were over 18.

“They included students in their survey – but they had over 2,5000 responses from adults in the sector and under 1,5000 responses from young people.

“How can this be seen as placing students 'at the centre'?

"The voices and experiences of queer religious young people have been largely excluded from this process and this is a significant flaw in the process."

Professor Anna Hickey-Moody is known for her work with socially marginalised people. She is currently undertaking an Australian Research Council Discovery Grant-funded project on the sexuality and religion of young people


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