Perth Baptist school sacks gay teacher

A gay teacher has lost his job at a Baptist school in Perth, sparking debate about laws that allow religious schools to discriminate.

File image of school children.

File image of school children. Source: AAP

The sacking of a teacher has sparked calls to remove the legal right in Western Australia for private schools to discriminate against gay workers.

Craig Campbell had been employed as a relief teacher at South Coast Baptist College at Rockingham, where he completed primary and high school himself as a student, and another school.

However he says South Coast Baptist removed him from its roster after he told senior staff he was in a long-term relationship with a man.

He was never notified and found out from other teachers.

The other school still employs him.

Mr Campbell told OUTinPerth gay newspaper he went to a wedding with his partner and students from the school were there, so he decided to be proactive and tell the school.

LGBTI advocacy group spokesman Brian Greig, a former WA Democrats senator, has called on the WA government to close a "loophole" in the state's Anti-Discrimination Act.

"The loophole allows private and church schools to sack gay teachers for no reason," he told AAP, pointing out those schools relied on government funding.

"We are now in the absurd situation where LGBTI staff in private schools will soon be able to legally get married under federal law and then legally able to be sacked the next day under state law."

Tasmania is the only state to not have religious exemptions in its anti-discrimination act and hasn't for almost 20 years, meaning it is illegal to discriminate there on the grounds of sexuality or gender identity.

However WA has the broadest and most discriminatory wording in its laws, Mr Greig said.

The school's principal, Des Mitchell, told The West Australian the "school community's foundational beliefs at that time had reflected only relationships involving a male and a female" and there was "inconsistency with his beliefs on sexuality and the college's beliefs".

South Coast Baptist is in the electorate of WA Premier Mark McGowan, who says he's very disappointed as he has always regarded it a good school and Mr Mitchell "a good man".

He says the government is investigating whether the laws can be changed.

"I think most people would think it should be possible to work in a school and your sexual orientation is irrelevant," he told reporters.

3 min read
Published 22 November 2017 at 8:06pm
Source: SBS