A new survey has found that 94.5 per cent of LGBTI Australians are opposed to government legislation that would allow indirect discrimination at faith-based schools on the grounds of a school’s religious ethos.
Advocacy group just.equal conducted the survey of almost 2,000 LGBTI Australians, which was sent to the Labor-backed Senate inquiry into the discrimination faced by LGBTI students and staff.
The government’s leaked bill bans discrimination against LGBTI students on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, but allows it on the basis of “religious ethos”.
It doesn’t protect teachers, other staff, or parents.
95.2 per cent of survey respondents opposed to the bill said they would rather wait for better legislation, while more than 90 per cent also wanted teachers, other staff, and parents to also be protected.
Spokesperson for just.equal, Rodney Croome, said LGBTI Australians delivered an emphatic ‘no’ to any compromises allowing for continued discrimination.
“The message to law-makers is clear – if you want to tackle discrimination, tackle it all,” he said.
Almost 500 survey respondents explained their reasons for opposing all discrimination, the most common reason being that faith-based schools shouldn’t have special exemptions from discrimination law while in receipt of public funds.
An interim report on the Senate inquiry is due to be released this week, while the government is expected to introduce its legislation soon.
Senator Janet Rice, Australian Greens LGBTIQ+ spokesperson, said two weeks ago that the Greens had amended the Terms of Reference for the inquiry to ensure that it would report its findings on both LGBTI students and staff discrimination this week.
“Removing discrimination against both students and staff is urgent. It must happen this year,” Rice said.
“Labor’s original dates would have informed legislation regarding only students this year, leaving teachers hanging out to dry until next year.”
“The Greens amendment means the inquiry will be quick and we can get on with the job of removing discrimination in schools before parliament and schools rise for the summer break.”