New data released by Equality Australia shows that 72 per cent of Australians support legal protections for LGBTI students and teachers.
Equality Australia’s report also shows that 67 per cent of Liberal voters support legal protections preventing faith-based schools from expelling students or firing teachers “for being gay or transgender”.
With the results of the Senate inquiry into LGBTI discrimination in schools also pending, Equality Australia says the figures show Australians are ready for the matter to be dealt with comprehensively once and for all.
“Australians believe in equality and fairness, not discrimination,” said Aram Hosie, Director of Engagement at Equality Australia.
“These results show Australians clearly oppose discrimination against LGBTQ students and teachers in faith based schools.
“Our research shows that almost three quarters of Australians believe students and teachers at faith-based schools should be legally protected from exclusion on the basis of them being gay or transgender.”
The data allowed respondents to indicate their level of support for two statements; either the idea that “faith-based schools be legally allowed to exclude students and fire teachers if they are gay or transgender”, or that “students and teachers at faith-based schools should be legally protected from expulsion or firing on the basis of them being gay or transgender”.
Those polled indicated varying levels of support for each statement, with 45 per cent of Greens voters completely supporting the latter statement, with 34 per cent of Labor voters and 18 per cent of Liberal voters unequivocally supporting legal protections.
LNP voters backed the idea with more reservation, with 28 per cent saying they “somewhat support” the push against anti-discrimination exemptions, and 13 per cent indicated strong support.
Just six per cent of LNP voters said they completely support schools’ right to discriminate, with 33 per cent suggesting varying levels of support for the exemptions to remain in place, compared to 28 per cent of all polled.
“The Morrison Government must ensure their proposed Act does not allow for religious exceptionalism that leaves LGBTQ students and teachers vulnerable to discrimination,” Hosie said.
“Nearly seventy percent of Liberal voters agree that LGBTQ students and teachers need to be protected. It’s time for Prime Minister Morrison to listen to his constituents about the need for change.
“Equality Australia has shared this data in our submission to the Inquiry. It is clear that Australians believe discrimination has no place in our schools or in our classrooms.
“Australians support equality for all LGBTQ students and teachers, and any attempts to legislate to protect religious freedom should not come at the expense of LGBTQ students and teachers’ wellbeing.
“Discrimination has no place in Australian politics. These ongoing debates condoning inequality and bigotry are shameful and must end,” said Hosie.
“All students and teachers should be made to feel safe and secure at school, and we will be doing all we can to make sure no student or teacher fears being kicked out of school or treated badly for being who they are.”
Equality Australia was formed late last year to address further LGBTI rights battles in the wake of marriage equality.
Australian Lawyers for Human Rights recently renewed the call for religious exemptions to discrimination law to be removed in 2019.
The Morrison government looks set to take religious freedoms legislation to the next federal election, which is due to be held in May.