The Victorian Government has introduced the Equal Opportunity (Religious Exceptions) Bill 2016 in Parliament this week, which will reinstate the inherent requirements test that was originally included in the 2010 Equal Opportunity Act.
The inherent requirements test will limit the ability of a religious body or school to rely on a religious defence to discriminate in the area of employment because of a person’s sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or differing religious beliefs. The defence will be limited to circumstances where religious beliefs are an inherent requirement of a job, and an employee or job applicant does not meet the requirement because of a specific personal attribute.
The test will not force religious bodies or schools to employ people with attributes that conflict with its religious beliefs and principles. However, it will require them to demonstrate a necessary connection between their religious beliefs and the requirements of a specific role.
The LGBTI community continues to experience discrimination, exclusion and victimisation in a range of settings. The removal of legislative discrimination of people on the basis of their sex, sexuality or gender identity is an important step forward towards equality for people in same-sex relationships.