A petition calling on Scott Morrison to amend legislation allowing faith-based schools to discriminate against LGBT students and staff has been delivered to Canberra by a group of young queer people.
The Change.org petition, which garnered more than 52,000 signatures, was created by Minus18’s Adrian Murdoch and hand delivered to Senators Penny Wong and Richard Di Natale on Wednesday afternoon.
Murdoch said he created the petition in response to the pre-existing legislation, which gave faith-based schools licence to expel a student or fire a teacher on the basis of sexual orientation.
“The message is clear – overwhelmingly Australians believe that all students and teachers deserve to be protected from religious discrimination,” he told the Star Observer.
“Today Minus18 shares the voices of 52,391 students, parents, teachers, and community members from every state and territory in Australia who call on the Morrison Government to end the religious exceptions to discrimination laws based on sexuality and gender identity.
“Minus18 hopes that the petition delivery will signal enough support for a bill to pass protecting the rights of LGBTIQ students, teachers, and staff.
“It was immediately clear even in 2018, that these changes needed to be made and reflect modern Australian values.”
Murdoch cited Tasmania as an example of a state where protections can exist for LGBTI people without impacting the ethos of religious schools.
“Inclusion and diversity in our schools should be the expectation, not a debate,” he said.
A number of the petition signees expressed their opinions on the issue on Change.org.
“I’m signing because we need to support the wellbeing and mental health of young people, not damage it by saying they are wrong or worthless,” Emma Goodall wrote.
“I’m a teacher and we have a responsibility to care for the wellbeing of all young people,” Rachel Bowen wrote.
“Also, no-one deserves to be discriminated against in the workplace, including gay teachers.”
“Nobody should have to hide themselves to survive,” Elliot Brown wrote.
The petition was delivered in Canberra on behalf of Minus18 General Manager Tony Lee, Equality Australia’s Anna Brown, and young LGBTI people.
On the heels of an inquiry into discrimination against LGBTI students at faith-based schools, a report is expected to be tabled in the Senate later today.