Prime Minister Scott Morrison seems to have found another way to shore up the dwindling support for his contentious Religious Discrimination Bill. The new proposal, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, would prohibit faith-based schools from expelling gay students, but they would retain the right to expel trans students.

The newest proposal comes a week after Morrison responded to the Citipointe Christian College’s controversial student enrolment contract to expel gay and trans students.

“The bill we’re going to be taking through the parliament, we will have an amendment that will deal with that to ensure kids cannot be discriminated against on that basis. I’ve been saying that for years. That’s always been my view,” Morrison had said on Brisbane’s B105.3 radio.

Christian Organisations Come On Board

The new proposal will amend s38(3) of the Sex Discrimination Act along with passing the Religious Discrimination Act. The SDA provision allows faith-based organisations  to discriminate on the basis of sexuality, sexual orientation and gender identity. The amendment will not scrap the whole provision, but drop sexuality from the list of exceptions to the discrimination law.

Morrison’s new proposal seems to have won the support of some conservative religious organisations, that had been opposed to protections for LGBTQI students.

“Without seeing the detail of the amendment, if they can deal simply with the expulsion of students on the grounds of sexual orientation without unintended consequences, then we’d support it,” Christian Schools Australia policy director Mark Spencer told the Guardian, adding, “Dealing with issues of gender identity is far more complex and nuanced for schools.”

Moderate Liberals Oppose, Labor Dithers

Morrison would still need the support of his Coalition members or the opposition Labor to pass the Bill in parliament.

Some Moderate Liberals had said they would cross the floor to vote against the existing draft of the Bill. Tasmanian Liberal MP Bridget Archer has said she would oppose the Bill over provisions that would override Tasmania’s anti-discrimination law.

The Labor is yet to come out with its position on the bill. Opposition leader Anthony Albanese has previously said that people “shouldn’t be discriminated against on the basis of their faith, or their gender, or their sexuality, or their race”.

In an interview with The Conversation, Albanese had stressed on the workability of any legislation.  “And the test is – can you ensure that you’re supporting non-discrimination without discriminating against another group? That’s the test here that we’ve said all along we would apply. But I do not believe that anyone should be discriminated against on the basis of their faith,” Albanese had said.


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