CALL FOR CHURCH TO BE INVESTIGATED ‘LIKE ANY OTHER CONFESSED LAW BREAKER’


Tasmanian gay activists have slammed a proposal from the Catholic Church for an Anti-Discrimination Act exemption for religious schools, labelling an exemption a “Bigot’s Charter” and calling for the Catholic Church to be investigated for admitting it already discriminates.


In an address at today’s Hobart Town Hall forum marking ten years of the Anti-Discrimination Act, Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group spokesperson, Rodney Croome, said an exemption allowing religious schools to discriminate on the grounds of religion is a betrayal of the principles behind the Act. 


“The exemption sought for religious schools has the potential to be abused, not only to harass and intimidate students of different faiths, but also students of unmarried parents, students who come out as gay, or students who simply question church doctrine - it will be a Bigots’ Charter”, Mr Croome said.


“Australian taxpayers fund religious schools to provide all parents with a choice about where their children are schooled. If religious schools now want to limit that choice they should lose their funding.”


Mr Croome up’d the ante by calling for an investigation into admissions by the Catholic Archbishop of Hobart, Rt Rev Adrian Doyle, that his schools are already “technically breaching” the state Anti-Discrimination Act by discriminating against some non-Catholic students.


“The Anti-Discrimination Act is a law like any other law, and if the Catholic Church admits violating that law it should be investigated like any other confessed law-breaker”, Mr Croome said.


Mr Croome said the Catholic Education Office has the right to apply for a time-limited administrative exemption from the Act, something it has thus far failed to do.


“If the Church was genuine about boosting numbers of Catholic students, and about not breaking the law in the process, it would have applied for an administrative exemption instead of trying to obtain special rights that punch a hole right through what is a landmark piece of legislation.”


The State Government announced in October that it will legislate to provide the Catholic Church with the exemption it seeks, but no legislation was introduced before Parliament rose, delaying the matter until after the state election in March.


On numerous occasions Archbishop Doyle has admitted that his schools do not abide by the Anti-Discrimination Act. For example, on ABC TV News on April 28th, 2007 he stated,


“The first obligation of Catholic education is to Catholic students and their families. From a technical point of view, this places the Catholic education system in breach of the Anti-Discrimination Act.”


A copy of Mr Croome’s address to today’s forum, to be delivered at 12.20pm, can be found at
http://www.rodneycroome.id.au/other_more?id=3110_0_2_0_M2