LGBTI rights advocates have called on Labor to tie its promise of funding to faith-based schools with the removal of discrimination exemptions that allow them to fire LGBTI teachers and expel LGBTI students.
The Labor Party has recently promised an additional $250 million to religious schools, but has also said it has no intention to remove special legal exemptions that allow them to discriminate against LGBTI people.
“In every mainland state, religious schools are allowed to fire teachers and expel students simply because of their sexuality or gender identity,” said Just.equal spokesperson Rodney Croome.
“We call on Labor—a party that says it opposes discrimination—not to give another cent of taxpayer money to religious schools until those schools are governed by the same discrimination laws as state schools.
“In recent years in just one state, Western Australia, a seven-year-old was removed from her Mandurah religious school when it found out she had two dads, and a teacher was sacked from a Rockingham Baptist school for being gay.
“These cases are just the tip of an iceberg. Across the nation teachers and students live in fear of being found out and kicked out.
“For example, there are LGBTI teachers at publicly funded church schools who still can’t get married because it would mean they lose their job.”
The current federal government review into ‘religious freedom’, led by Philip Ruddock, has just been extended after receiving an unprecedented volume of submissions.
The review is assessing the need for exemptions to anti-discrimination laws, which would allow people and organisations to discriminate against LGBTI people based on religious beliefs.
The review panel is now due to report back to parliament by May 18.