Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull has dismissed John Howard’s suggestion that schools with mandatory education on sexuality and gender should be defunded.

In a submission to the federal government’s review into ‘religious freedom’, Howard said that parents should have the right to keep their children out of sex education that “they might regard as incompatible with their values”, The Guardian has reported.

Religious organisations including the Anglican Church of Sydney and lobby group Freedom for Faith have similarly called for the “freedom of parents to ensure that their child’s religious and moral education is in accordance with their convictions”.

Howard suggested that the federal government should “make it a condition of funding for both government and non-government schools that parental rights of this kind be respected”.

Turnbull rejected Howard’s suggestion, saying in a radio interview yesterday that he was unaware of any schools that did not already permit parents to opt their children out of sex education.

“I think the universal practice around the country is to give parents that right, as they should have that right,” said Turnbull.

Howard also called for religious schools to be able to discriminate in hiring and firing staff, suggesting the same “common sense view” that allows political parties to discriminate in hiring based on political beliefs should override anti-discrimination laws.

Poll results released earlier this week show that four in five Australians are against religious schools being able to fire staff or expel students for being LGBTI.

The religious freedom review has received thousands of submissions from individuals and groups.

A group of Anglican deans, including dean of Brisbane Peter Catt, said there is “insufficient evidence to make the case that religious freedom is under serious threat” in Australia.

The review, led by Philip Ruddock, is due to report back to government this Friday.

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