In the lead-up to the November 27 Victorian state elections, the Council of Single Mothers Action Group has expressed its concern about the right of religious institutions to legally discriminate against gays, lesbians and single parents.
Until amended last year, Victorian Equal Opportunities legislation granted religious bodies many exemptions. This meant they could discriminate against many groups of people in employment and service provision. The amendments did not remove the right to discriminate against gays, lesbians and single parents.
Religious institutions controlled or run by a body established for religious purposes may discriminate on the basis of any “protected characteristic” when employing people, provided that discrimination is necessary to conform to religious beliefs or sensitivities.
Religious schools run according to religious beliefs and principles but not by religious bodies are also exempt from discrimination provisions.
The action group has also expressed its concern about the lack of after-school care for secondary school students; more flexible child care hours and education maintenance allowance for students over 16. Other issues of concern are Family Law reform and the need for greater access to legal aid.