The sacking of teachers at the Islamic College of SA’s West Croydon Campus for refusing to wear the hijab is a clear violation of human rights, according to John Perkins, President of the Secular Party of Australia.
“Existing laws leave employees vulnerable to abuse, and the government’s proposed anti-discrimination legislation has failed to fix that,” Dr Perkins said. “The new legislation will continue to exempt religious institutions from laws that apply to all other employers. Christian schools, hospitals and employment agencies will still be able to refuse employment to gays, lesbians and single mothers. Once again, religion trumps intrinsic human rights.”
The ruling on religious attire at the college was introduced in 2012, at which point teachers were told they must comply or face the sack. Two female teachers have subsequently lost their jobs and are seeking redress in the courts.
Dr Perkins emphasised that the hijab is a religious symbol, and as such should not be imposed on others. “If a Muslim teacher at a Christian school were ordered to remove her hijab for no good reason, there would quite rightly be a huge uproar,” he said. “The Secular Party of Australia supports the rights of the religious to practise the requirements of their faith, but not to compel others to do likewise.”
He added that many of the religious organisations exempt from anti-discrimination laws are in receipt of government funding or else are under government contract. “It is time to end the practice of allowing taxpayers’ money to fund religious bigotry against women, the gay community and other religions,” he concluded.
Feb 15, 2013