Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said that amendments will be made to religious discrimination laws to take away the right of faith-based schools to discriminate against and expel LGBTQI students.
Morrison made the surprise comments on Brisbane’s B105.3 radio when he was asked about Citipointe Christian College’s now withdrawn anti-LGBTQI student enrolment contract.
““No, I don’t support that. My kids go to a Christian school here in Sydney, and I wouldn’t want my school doing that either,” Morrison said.
Moderate Liberals Wanted Protection For LGBTQI Students
Morrison’s announcement is a significant back flip by his government which had been seeking to pass the Religious Discrimination Bill in Parliament. Moderate Liberal MPs had pushed for changes to the law to bar faith-based schools from expelling LGBTQI students as a condition to support the Religious Discrimination Bill.
Attorney General Michaelia Cash had till recently been claiming that there would be no amendments to the law and changes to the Sex Discrimination Act to protect LGBTQI students would be made in 12 months time.
Morrison’s announcement signals that the government may have agreed to the amendments to ensure the bill passed in parliament.
‘Betrayal’, Says Christian Organisations
Conservative Christian organisations, who have been resisting any changes to the Bill, cried “betrayal” soon enough.
“Scott Morrison has betrayed the foundation of the religious discriomination bill,” said Greg Bondar, Family Voices NSW Director in a statement.
“Morrison has fallen into the same trap as Bill Shorten in 2019, ignoring the voice of the Christian community. This is a sad day for all Australians and particularly faith schools as it has put religious freedom and free speech at risk.”
“Talk of simultaneously removing section 38(3) of the Sex Discrimination Act, which protects the teaching and daily operation of faith-based schools, in exchange for some MPs’ support for the Religious Discrimination Bill, is extremely unhelpful. The Australian Christian Lobby will withdraw its support for the Religious Discrimination Bill package if it includes the removal of section 38(3),” the Lobby’s National Director of Politics, Wendy Francis had said.
Scrap The Religious Discrimination Bill
The Prime Minister must withdraw the Religious Discrimination Bill and do what he promised to do; deliver a simple reform that protects all of us, equally.
Read our full release here: https://t.co/7TDM6mBIoc #auspol #ReligiousDiscriminationBill
— Equality Australia 🌈 (@EqualityAu) February 3, 2022
Equality Australia was cautious in welcoming Morrison’s announcement and asked the government to scrap the entire bill.
“The Prime Minister made a commitment in 2018 to remove the outdated carve-outs in national anti-discrimination laws which allow discrimination against LGBTQ+ people in religious schools. This reform is long overdue, and better protections must apply to both teachers and students”, Ghassan Kassisieh, Legal Director at Equality Australia, said in a statement.
Equality Australia said that Bill will lead to discriminatory employment practiices across faith-based institutions, including school, aged-care services, emergency accommodation and hospitals.
The organisation asked Morrison to delink the amendment to protect LGBTQI students from the Religious Discrimination Bill.
“If the Prime Minister is serious about fulfilling his 2018 election commitment, he would end discrimination against LGBTQ+ students and staff in religious schools by delivering simple legislation to stop schools from firing, expelling or discriminating against them for who they are.”
“And if his government is serious about protecting people of faith from discrimination, he must withdraw the Religious Discrimination Bill and do what he promised to do; deliver a simple reform that protects all of us, equally,” added Kassisieh.
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