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Religious anti-discrimination legislation and the negotiation of difference in Victoria, Australia


Ezzy, D and Banham, R and Beaman, LG, Religious anti-discrimination legislation and the negotiation of difference in Victoria, Australia, Religion, State and Society, 50, (1) pp. 22-39. ISSN 0963-7494 (2022) [Refereed Article]

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© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.

DOI: doi:10.1080/09637494.2021.2010906


This article examines the role of anti-discrimination legislation in the negotiation of religious difference in the Australian state of Victoria. We argue for the importance of a relational conceptualisation of the negotiation of religious diversity that draws on concepts of etiquette and limitations, deep equality, and substantive equality. The Victorian legislation allows the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to ‘mediate’ the relationships between the people and groups that come before it. VCAT mediates relationships in three ways: 1. Providing a forum for constructive intervention in cases of problematic tension between groups, and in doing so facilitating the development of an ‘etiquette’ for the negotiation of power dynamics, typically between (historically) empowered and disempowered groups in Australia. 2. Providing a forum for making transparent examples of latent and covert discrimination and exclusion, encouraging participants to engage in reflection upon potential future courses of action. 3. The provision (or refusal) of exemptions to the Equal Opportunity Act, providing guidance about the management of religious difference in the public sphere.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:religious diversity, anti-discrimination legislation, shadow of the law, religious difference, equal opportunity legislation
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Sociology
Research Field:Sociology of religion
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Religion
Objective Field:Religion and society
UTAS Author:Ezzy, D (Professor Douglas Ezzy)
UTAS Author:Banham, R (Miss Rebecca Banham)
ID Code:149229
Year Published:2022
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (DP180101664)
Deposited By:Office of the School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2022-03-18
Last Modified:2022-04-08
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