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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 12 Hansard (Thursday, 1 November 2018) . . Page.. 4614 ..

It is not acceptable, Madam Speaker. It is simply not acceptable that our laws could be seen to condone vulnerable young people being treated unfavourably because of their sexuality or other attributes by institutions entrusted with their care and education. The Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kate Gilmore, asked:

So how can we tolerate, for even one more minute, those norms, practices, laws or policies that render our most intimate selves—our innate and intimate identities—into a cause of self loathing, a basis for ostracizing, a reason for exclusion, an excuse for violence, make of consensual love and diverse gender identities a crime? … These are matters of human rights—the rights of young people—and when we fail them in these, it is they who are paying for it with their futures—with their lives.

In the ACT we have a long and proud history of strongly rejecting exclusion and intolerance. I hope that in this chamber we can stand with our LGBTIQ students and families today and when we debate this legislation later this month. We support and value these students and families for who they are and we appreciate their contribution to our vibrant and diverse community.

Teachers and other staff at religious schools are also valued members of our community. They also require protection from discrimination in employment. It is not consistent with our values as an inclusive and progressive society for people to be excluded from employment based on inherent characteristics such as their sexuality or gender identity or other protected attributes such as their relationship status or whether or not they are pregnant.

Discrimination against teachers and other staff can also have a negative effect on students and on the broader school community, including a lack of diversity and positive role models for students who identify as LGBTIQ. It may be particularly damaging and divisive for students where a teacher who is known to students is asked to leave or subjected to some other form of discrimination because of a protected attribute.

We cannot be accepting and supporting of our LGBTIQ students whilst discriminating against their teachers on this basis. In this debate it has been observed that there appears to be agreement that discriminating against children and young people is a bad thing. So why, then, would discriminating against adults be a good thing? The same principles apply, and that is why this bill extends these protections beyond students to include also teachers and other staff in schools.

The bill we present today strikes the right balance between the right to freedom of religion and the rights of students and staff to equality and non-discrimination. It reflects the expectations of our progressive and inclusive community, our support and care for young people, for families and for teachers, and it marks another important commitment for this government in our journey to ensure that Canberra becomes and remains Australia’s most LGBTIQ friendly city. I thank Mr Rattenbury for co-sponsoring this bill today. I commend it to the Assembly.

MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong—Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability, Minister for Corrections and Justice Health, Minister for Justice, Consumer Affairs

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