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Compromise struck on Queensland discrimination issue

Queensland religious schools cannot sack or refuse to employ people simply because they are homosexual or live in de facto relationships, but teachers must agree to a code of behaviour that is consistent with church teaching.

This is the outcome of a deal struck with the State Government that will allow the passage of controversial new anti-discrimination laws.

Premier Peter Beattie announced the deal last night after he and Attorney-General Rod Welford spent most of the day meeting church leaders and gay community representatives.

Early this month the Government announced it would allow churches to discriminate in favour of employees of their own religious denomination but change the law to remove their right to discriminate against homosexuals or people in de facto relationships.

The proposals, which had not been the subject of community consultation, provoked angry accusations from church representatives that the Government was attempting to deny religious freedom.

Last night Mr Beattie said yesterday's meetings produced a "win-win" compromise, which protected people from unreasonable discrimination while also allowing churches fair control over the activities of their staff.

Mr Welford said the concession meant churches would have the right to sack staff, whatever their sexuality or marital status, if they acted in a manner "intentionally and openly contrary" to their religious denomination in the course of their work or in any activity associated with their work.

But they could not sack or refuse to employ people simply because they were homosexual or lived in de facto relationships.

Queensland Catholic Education Commission executive director Joe McCorley last night said that he was pleased the issue had been resolved.

"The Government has recognised the inherently religious function of the church organisations and they've respected the need for the church to employ staff accordingly," Mr McCorley said.


Church wants to work with Qld Govt to remove flaws in new legislation (27/11/02)
Beattie denies backflip on teacher discrimination (26/11/02)
Church persuades Beattie to rethink discrimination issue (25/11/02)
Talks deadlock (Catholic Leader)
Catholic newspaper drawn into discrimination law controversy (20/11/02)
Laws threaten Church values (The Catholic Weekly, reproduced from The Catholic Leader)
Catholic Leader front page 18/11/02
Church may fight Queensland discrimination laws (14/11/02)
Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland | Re: Discrimination Law Amendment Bill launch
The Queensland Cabinet | Government Updates Discrimination Laws (media release 6/11/02)
Gay law reforms to hit Queensland Catholic schools (8/11/02)
Catholic Education Commission Queensland
CEO Archdiocese of Brisbane

28 Nov 2002