According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Attorney-General’s office has confirmed that religious schools can sack LGBTQI teachers for their views on sexuality under the revised Religious Discrimination Bill.

Both the SMH and Guardian Australia have also reported that changes to the safeguards of the Sex Discrimination Act to protect queer students have been delayed. They will not be reviewed until 12 months after the religious discrimination bill has been passed.

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Prime Minister Agreed to Change the Safeguards

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has reportedly agreed to change the safeguards if four moderate Liberal backbenchers support the ratification of the Religious Discrimination Bill. He also wants the bill to be passed before the next federal election.

The four Liberal MPs are Katie Allen, Angie Bell, Fiona Martin and Dave Sharma.

SMH reported Michaelia Cash, the Attorney General, stated in a submission to the inquiry that “the new law ‘would allow a religious school to consider a person’s religious beliefs about issues such as sexuality’ if it is part of its religious ‘doctrines, tenets, beliefs or teachings.’

“Section 38.3 of the Sex Discrimination Act… allows religious schools to discriminate against another person because of sexual orientation, gender identity, marital or relationship status or pregnancy.”

LGBTQI Teachers Worried About Losing Their Jobs

Many LGBTQI teachers at religious schools are worried they will lose their jobs or face discrimination once the bill is passed.

Lesbian high school teacher Steph Lentz was dismissed from her position at Sydney’s Covenant Christian College in January last year.

The Anglican church defended its dismissal of Lentz in December of that same year. In its defence, it cited an opinion piece she wrote for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

Lentz stated in the article that she was fired because of her belief that “a person can be Christian and be gay.”

Guardian Australia has reported that the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Sydney Anglicans, along with the Australian Christian Lobby and Christian Schools Australia, support the contentious bill.

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States Concerned Bill Would Override State Law

NSW and Tasmanian Liberal state governments oppose the bill “over provisions that override state law on hiring practices, and statements of belief.”

The Victorian Labor state government “has complained the bill overrides reforms it passed in December, limiting schools’ ability to discriminate against staff to positions where religious belief is an inherent requirement.”

Just.Equal advocate Rodney Croome tweeted on Friday: “Today a coalition of Tasmanians will give evidence to an inquiry into the Religious Discrimination Bill. We will make the case that Tassie’s gold-standard Anti-Discrimination Act should not be weakened under the Federal Bill.”

Alastair Lawrie, policy manager for Public Interest Advocacy Centre, tweeted: “This means that, unless an LGBT student is prepared to affirm that ‘homosexuality is intrinsically disordered’, or that ‘god created only man and woman, therefore transgender people do not exist’, the religious school will be free to discriminate against them under the Bill.”

Read the Star Observer’s Submission on the Religious Discrimination Bill.

 

If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.

For 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14

For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

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