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Gay Lord slams Victorian Government on new discrimination law
This media release was issued by the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby on 5.10.09.
Lord R McDowall, the head of a UK based gay rights charity, the LGBT Network  has sent a stinging letter to the Victorian Premier and Attorney General, Rob Hulls, attacking the proposals to let religious run schools, hospitals and welfare services ban gays and lesbians, unmarried mothers and those of a different faith from employment and accessing their services.
Lord McDowall will also be writing to the Australian Prime Minister, the Governor General and senior figures in the ALP in the coming days to demand action to halt the new laws, which he called ‘Un-Australian.’
“It is the exact opposite of the bedrock of Australian values and principles. It is incompatible with the guiding principles of the Commonwealth of Australia, the right of a fair go, for everyone, regardless of who they are or where they come from.”
Said Lord McDowall
“Why is it right or fair in a democratic, modern society, and in an urban, cosmopolitan state such as Victoria, that ecclesiastic religious scholar’s should decide who is best to deliver the services they have decided to offer, rather than the mangers who run those services?”
“In what way does it ensure the best possible standard of care or of teaching when hospitals or schools can be prevented by the clerics who oversee them from hiring the best candidate for the job?”
Lord McDowall was incredibly concerned that religious run schools and hospitals could bar gays and lesbians, as well as those of a different faith and unmarried mothers from accessing vital services. He asked the Premier;
“Do you want Victoria to be a place where young people can be excluded from school because of their sexuality? Where someone can be refused entry to a hospital and left to die on the street outside because they are of a different faith? Because they don’t have a wedding ring on their finger?”
The United Kingdom, along with most Western nations, does not allow discrimination against gays and lesbians in employment or in the provision of goods and services. In the UK, the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007 was introduced to make such discrimination illegal.
“We want to ensure that when people visit their hospital, study at school or college, or even do something as everyday as shopping or booking a holiday, they get treated fairly and with respect, no matter what their sexual orientation.” 
Nick Henderson, who is the director of the LGBT Network, thought that these new laws could seriously damage tourism in Victoria, and put many travellers off visiting the state.
“If you are on holiday and need emergency medical treatment, you go to the nearest hospital. However with these new laws, gay and lesbian tourists, families whose parents aren’t married and any visitor that isn’t a Christian, is going to have to work out what hospital will actually take them.”
“This is going to add so much hassle and stress to a trip to Victoria, having to carry around huge lists of hospitals that will take you in an emergency and those that won’t. I think many people will simply decide to go somewhere else.”
Alison Burton, a community worker in the UK who is considering a working holiday in Australia, is worried that this may damage the special bond between Brits and Australians.
“I’ve worked with loads of Australians over here, its fantastic that they can come here and live and work for a few years, I and so many people I know have great mates that are Australian, and it makes me want to go and do a working holiday in Australia when I graduate from University.”
“But I think it’s really unfair that if I go and work in Victoria, then I can be refused a job because I’m not married or I’m not religious. Especially since Australians in the UK aren’t discriminated against, it’s illegal.”
Anyone with the right skills and qualifications can work in a school or hospital or community service in the UK, many Australians do that then take the experience they gained back home, it’s great for us and great for them and their communities down under. So why shouldn’t I be able to do the same thing?
When asked if this would put her off going to Victoria, she responded:
“It’s made me think twice about going to Australia. I just assumed that, like Europe, people aren’t refused hospital treatment or barred from jobs because of their sexuality or religion or if they are married or not.
“It just doesn’t make any sense, especially in welfare services and in education and health care, why wouldn’t you give the job to the best candidate?”
You can see a copy of the letter sent by Lord McDowall at
For more information, please contact the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby
Ph: 0417 484 438
Or contact the LGBT Network
+44 (0) 871 2456 100 or +44 (0) 77 603 08173
Notes to Editors
 The LGBT Network is an independent charity registered in Scotland SC 040190
The Chair, Lord R McDowall, is a member of the CNLE Assembly (Council of the Noble Lords of Europe)
 United Kingdom Department for Communities and Local Government, Guidance on New Measures to Outlaw Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation in the Provision of Goods, Facilities and Services, 2007, pg 29
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