AACSStronger legal protections for LGBTI people could lead to “legalised open bigamous marriages”, creating welfare dependency and destabilising children, a Christian schools body has argued.

The outrageous claims were made in a submission by the Australian Association of Christian Schools to the federal senate committee reviewing the Sex Discrimination Amendment (SDA) Bill 2013.

The bill has received bipartisan support and would protect LGBTI people under national anti-discrimination law for the first time, adding extra protections on top of similar existing state laws.

AACS executive officer Robert Johnson prepared the submission which called on the federal government to abandon the bill altogether.

The submission said it was imperative law makers did not legislate these laws for the LGBTI community because the community was far from having a united voice on all issues.

“For example, to legislate to provide ‘greater protection’ for characteristics that include those who are homosexual by ‘open choice’ or ‘philosophical commitment to permissive liberalism’ runs the risk of opening a Pandora’s box of licentiousness including legalised open bigamous marriages, polygamy, serial de facto relationships, etc with the consequential destabilizing [sic] affects for children, for deserted partners, mental health consequences and social welfare dependency,” the AACS submission said.

As of 2011, the Australian Association of Christian Schools said it represented about 33,450 students at 90 schools across the country.

Family Voice Australia and the Catholic Women’s League Australia Inc. opposed the bill because the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 was based on enshrining international law such as the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

They argued there was no international law or treaty that explicitly protected LGBTI people.

Family Voice Australia also said there was no evidence provided by the federal government on why the protections were needed.

NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby policy officer Jed Horner told the Star Observer both suggestions were wrong.

“Firstly, we have had evidence for a number of years through the Writing Themselves In studies… which show the effects of discrimination on the LGBTI community including their health and wellbeing,” he said.

“So there’s ample evidence from the Australian context to support the introduction of these protections at a federal level.

“International human rights law clearly includes provisions for people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, so there’s a very clear mandate for the government to legislate.”

International provisions for people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity were found in the ‘other status’ in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Horner said.

The Australian Christian Lobby said that it respected the rights of LGBTI people but called on the government to strengthen laws to further protect freedom of religion.

More than 15 submissions received supported the new bill.

Submissions for the inquiry have closed and the senate committee will report back on June 17.

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