Australian Conservatives Senate candidate Lyle Shelton has said that LGBTI students should only be expelled from religious schools if they have sex.

The former head of the Australian Christian Lobby said it should not be necessary for schools to expel students if they come out or are outed at school.

 Appearing on Sky News last night, Shelton claimed he is “not aware of any epidemic of religious schools banning gay students.”

“I’m not aware of anyone who is gay being expelled from a religious school… I’m not aware of this being an issue.

“I don’t think there is a need to have a protection, or a freedom to ban gays per se, but there is a need for school communities to have the freedom to deal with behaviours that might disrupt the freedom of the wider community to enjoy the ethos that they want to have as part of their freedom of association.”

Shelton clarified in an interview with Fairfax Media that he thinks students’ enrolment should come into question as a matter of “behaviour”, after yesterday dismissing the leaked Ruddock review finding that religious freedoms have not been impacted by marriage equality.

“A school should be allowed to ensure that they can protect their ethos,” he said.

“If individuals are acting in a way that’s not in accordance with the well-known ethos of that school, those schools should be able to do what they need to do to preserve that.”

Shelton said schools should “absolutely” be allowed to expel students for having sex with someone of the same sex.

“It’s not up to the government to tell people what their religious beliefs should or shouldn’t be.

“Religious communities obviously have moral codes. Some people get hung up on sex, but there are a whole lot of voluntary codes that are adhered to by these communities.”

Shelton responded once the interview was published, saying, “That’s not quite what I meant.”

“It would be good if alternative worldviews could be taken more seriously, instead of demonised and ridiculed. Debate would be better.”

Journalist Michael Koziol, who conducted the interview, replied, “I asked that specific question twice, but if it needs to be clarified, by all means let’s do that.”

“I don’t recall your comment as a specific question to me but my mind wasn’t going where your’s (sic) was,” Shelton tweeted.

“My point was about the freedom to preserve the organisation’s ethos where people’s behaviour (not necessarily of a sexual nature) sought to undermine it.”

Meanwhile, Senator Derryn Hinch said he would move a motion to strip schools of public funding should they exercise their ‘right to discriminate’ against LGBTI staff and students.

Hinch tweeted that the motion would call “for any private school that discriminates against a teacher or student on sexuality grounds be stripped of all government funds and charity status.”

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