The vote in the House of Representatives to amend the religious discrimination laws to protect gay and trans students has proved a step too far for the Australian Christian Lobby. The Christian Lobby is now demanding Morrison gut the Religious Discrimination Bill.

LGBTQI organisations have been asking the federal government to “kill the bill” over provisions that discriminate against gay and trans students, disabled people, women and minority groups.

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Conservative Christian organisations that have been supporting the bill have however withdrawn their backing over fears that they will lose their right to discriminate against and expel gay and trans students.

Christian Lobby Withdraws Support For The Bill

“The bills were intended to help faith-based schools, but they now do more harm than good,” claimed the Australian Christian Lobby in a statement.

“Labor, independents and Liberals, Bridget Archer, David Sharma, Trent Zimmerman, Katie Allen and Fiona Martin voted for an amendment to remove section 38(3) of the Sex Discrimination Act which contains vital protections for religious schools. These protections have enabled faith-based schools to teach their religion and conduct their schools according to their faith values. The loss of this protection would outweigh any benefits that could be obtained by the Religious Discrimination Bill,” said Wendy Francis, the Lobby’s National Director of Politics.

“The Australian Christian Lobby withdraws its support for the Religious Discrimination Bill package and calls on the Morrison Government to now withdraw the Bills from the Senate,” demanded Francis.

Protections For Gay And Trans Students

The Coalition’s Bill was passed in the House of Representatives with support from Labor. However, five Liberal MPs crossed the floor of the house and voted with Labor and Green MPs to support cross bench MP Rebekha Sharkie’s motion on the Human Rights Amendment Bill. The motion sought repeal of provisions in the Sex Discrimination Act that presently allows faith-based schools to expel gay and trans students.

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Labor had said that the Bill was flawed, but they would move amendments when the Bill comes to the Senate, where the opposition is in a stronger position.

Faith-based organisations have been strong supporters of the Religious Discrimination Bill and have previously threatened to withdraw support if it was watered down. Under the provisions of the Sex Discrimination Act, religious schools were allowed the right to discriminate against LGBTQI students. Catholic Education Tasmania had recently not ruled out sacking teachers or refusing to recruit them of they identify as LGBTQI.

Bill Shelved?

It is unlikely that the Bill would be taken up in this sitting of the Parliament or even before the elections. “A Greens motion to prevent the Religious Discrimination Bills from being rushed through the Senate has just passed. This means they cannot pass this week. Time to mobilise, organise, and fight this terrible law,” Greens senator Nick McKim tweeted.

Both the government and Labor then voted to remove the Bill from Thursday’s agenda. ABC reported that the government has shelved the bill indefinitely. The national broadcaster reported that according to Assistant Attorney-General Amanda Stoker the amended bill with protections for gay and trans students that was passed in the House of Representatives was flawed.

“It’s not what the government designed….It’s not what we thought had got the balance right,” said Senator Stroker. The Sydney Morning Herald reported the the government now plans to launch a fresh Senate inquiry into the amended 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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