Advocates have slammed legislation proposed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, warning it may open up new forms of discrimination.
Morrison claims that the Coalition’s proposed bill will end discrimination against LGBTI students at religious schools.
“The legislation announced today allows discrimination to continue against LGBTI students, and potentially broadens it out to other students,” Croome said.
“This bill is deeply flawed and should be voted down by all MPs who want faith-based schools to be safe and productive learning environments.
“Tasmania banned anti-LGBTI discrimination in faith-based schools twenty years ago without the sky falling in, and I urge all sides of federal politics to adopt the Tasmanian model.”
Croome added that LGBTI teachers in faith-based schools should also be protected from discrimination.
The Greens also condemned Morrison’s legislation, calling it a “Trojan horse”.
“This bill is a Trojan horse that will expand discrimination against LGBTI students, not remove it,” said senator Janet Rice, the Australian Greens LGBTI spokesperson.
“This bill allows schools to bully, exclude or even refuse to teach LGBTI students. It is unacceptable.”
“Discrimination against LGBTI young people is dangerous. We know that LGBTI young people experience far worse mental health than their peers, and it’s often because of discrimination.”
“Discrimination has no place in schools. Full stop. No ifs. No buts.”
“Students and all Australians have every right to be deeply frustrated and heartbroken that our Parliament has failed to deliver on what should be a straightforward reform,” said the Human Rights Law Centre’s Anna Brown.
“Prime Minister Morrison has broken his commitment to introduce and pass legislation to protect students in school as soon as practicable.
“That commitment was made in October, the changes are very simple and now in the final days of Parliament we are mired in a ridiculous debate instead of giving families certainty before the new school year,” Brown said.
Morrison also challenged Labor to allow MPs a conscience vote on the matter, even though more than 90 per cent of Australians support the wholesale removal of the discrimination exemptions and oppose the government’s bill.
On Monday the Coalition voted against bringing Labor’s bill to debate with the support of Centre Alliance, who yesterday backflipped to allow the debate to occur.
Today, Centre Alliance senator Rex Patrick supported Coalition amendments that Labor said would broaden the scope of discrimination.
In response, Labor pulled their bill, with Senator Penny Wong saying the amendments would “destroy the intent of the bill.”
The Senate has now, once again, voted to defer handling the matter until sitting resumes in 2019.
In a press conference, Morrison was asked if any religion should be allowed to teach in schools that it’s not “alright to be gay”.
“Well my understand of my faith and other religious teachings goes to people’s behaviour, not who they are,” Morrison responded.
“Are you saying it’s not okay to live a gay life?” another journalist queried.
“No, look, these are matters that would be dealt with by courts in specific circumstances, so I’m not getting drawn into that debate,” Morrison said.
Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek warned that the government’s refusal to take clear action after Morrison vowed that the issue would be dealt with by the end of the year could be history repeating.
“I’m worried that this will go down the same route as the marriage equality debate. Someone will be suggesting a plebiscite next.”