In Adelaide, an Islamic College has threatened to dismiss non-Muslim female staff if they do not wear headscarves to work.
For some years, the college had an unwritten rule, which the previous principal did not enforce.
The school board has now established a written policy which it tends to enforce. This now puts the college on a collision course with the unions, who have taken umbrage at the threat of sackings to long term employees.
Jennifer Rankin, Minister for Education and Multicultural Affairs, stated that ” We provide them with 23 per cent of their funding, and that contracts them in an obligation to abide by the laws of South Australia “. The school faces a dilemma, balancing their religious beliefs and policy, against the rights of the individual.
The purpose of the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 ( SA ) is to promote equality of opportunity for all South Australians. It aims to prevent discrimination against people and to give them a fair chance to take part in economic and community life.
In South Australia it is unlawful to discriminate because of :
Age, Association with a child ( in customer service or accommodation ), Caring responsibility, Chosen gender, Disability, Marital or domestic partnership status, Pregnancy, Race, Sexuality, Spouse or partner’s identity.
Discrimination laws also cover : Sexual harassment, victimisation, whistle-blowing.
Places where discrimination is unlawful:
Work, Customer service, Accommodation, Selling land, Clubs and associations, Education, Granting qualifications, Advertising.
Discrimination is against the law: when, as a result, someone feels humiliated, embarrassed, ridiculed, denigrated or segregated, is denied access or refused services, loses an opportunity or income.
Exemptions: sometimes discrimination that would usually be against the law is allowed. Exemptions are specific, and strict requirements apply.
Minister Rankin stated that: ” This is an unusual situation, where people are being asked to wear hijab, rather than removing hijab “.