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Advocates urge Albanese to protect LGBTQ+ students and staff

National LGBTIQA+ advocacy groups have responded to revelations that Prime Minister Anthony Albanese could walk away from his government’s commitment to introduce religious discrimination legislation this term if he doesn’t secure bipartisan support.

The news comes ahead of the tabling of a report from the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) this Thursdays, which will lay out legislative pathways to address issues raised in the 2018 Ruddock Religious Freedom Review.

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The Review suggested several ways that additional protections could be introduced and highlighted that LGBTIQA+ youth and teachers were exposed to discrimination in religious schools.

National LGBTIQA+ advocacy organisation, Just.Equal Australia, has accused the PM of selling out LGBTIQA+ students and staff.

“In its entire time in office the Coalition failed to protect LGBTIQA+ students and staff from discrimination by faith-based schools, and it’s very unlikely to have changed its mind,” Just.Equal spokesperson Rodney Croome said.

“By giving the Coalition a veto over Labor policy, Anthony Albanese has broken Labor’s election commitment and sold out LGBTIQA+ students and staff.”

“It’s deeply disappointing Anthony Albanese has put prejudice ahead of the equal human rights of vulnerable students and hard working teachers.”

“Last year Albanese walked across Sydney Harbour Bridge to mark WorldPride and now he is throwing us off the bridge to appease those who want the right to expel, sack and otherwise mistreat us.”

“I urge all LGBTIQA+ Australians who voted Labor at the last election hoping faith schools would finally be governed by the same laws as everyone else, to call and write to Anthony Albanese now, urging him to stick to his promise.”

Croome says there nothing radical or threatening about protecting vulnerable staff and students where they work and learn.

“Tasmania has banned discrimination by faith-based schools against LGBTIQA+ staff and students for a quarter century without the sky falling in. Other states have followed suit, with the majority of jurisdictions now protecting students, while impending changes in Queensland will soon mean a majority protect teachers too.”

“I was deeply disappointed to see Hobart Archbishop Julian Porteous declare today that national laws protecting LGBTIQA+ students and teachers from discrimination threaten the existence of Catholic schools, when Tasmanian law has prohibited such discrimination for many years without adverse effects on Catholic schools.”

“Archbishop Porteous’ advocacy is exposed as baseless alarmism by the experience in his own state.”

Croome said Just.Equal Australia will continue to advocate for all LGBTIQA+ employees, students, patients and clients of faith-based schools, hospitals and other services to have equal protection from discrimination.

National LGBTIQ+ group Equality Australia is also urging the Federal Government not to delay legal protections for LGBTQ+ staff and students in religious schools.

Equality Australia Legal Director Ghassan Kassisieh said if the Prime Minister is serious about fulfilling his election commitment, “he can take simple and quick steps right now to end discrimination against LGBTQ+ students and staff in religious schools.”

“While we continue to wait for the law to change, more people will lose their jobs and more children will be denied leadership roles or be forced to leave school.”

“We have spent more than a decade raising this issue, with many reviews and attempts to change the law. Now is the time for laws that protect all of us, equally,” Kassisieh said.

Equality Australia CEO Anna Brown said successive governments had failed to address significant gaps in protections for workers, students and service users in religious schools and organisations.

“This will come as a crushing blow for those waiting for better protections including women, people who are divorced or in de facto relationships, and people of faith,” Brown said.

“We urge the Prime Minister, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton and all parliamentarians to do the right thing and get these reforms through parliament. The law is out of step with 21st century community expectations and it’s time for it to finally change.”

National issue exposes local concerns

Veteran campaigner and the WA spokesperson for Just.Equal Australia, Brian Greig, said today’s announcement from the federal government had exposed the state government’s position as “a huge waste of time.”

“For several years WA Attorney General John Quigley has claimed without foundation that the state couldn’t move ahead with law reform for students and teachers until after the commonwealth responded to the ALRC inquiry.”

“Now that Albanese has responded by saying he’ll do nothing unless the Liberals agree, the entire process has been exposed as a monumental waste of time.

“The WA government could and should have moved on law reform years ago. Vulnerable teachers and students in publicly funded faith schools in WA, NSW, and South Australia still have no protections.

“Every other state has legislated to protect students and teachers and didn’t defer to the commonwealth.

“The unnecessary and pointless delay in WA has only made things worse for LGBTIQA+ people,” Greig said.

Calls for state-based reform fired up as early as 2015, when it was revealed a Mandurah school had threatened to expel a student for having a gay parent. The issue returned to the spotlight in 2017, when a teacher revealed to OUTinPerth he had lost his job after it was discovered he was in a same-gender relationship.

Speaking at Crown Perth’s 2023 Pride Luncheon last November, WA Minister for Emergency Services Stephen Dawson MLC said he was personally frustrated by slow progress in this area and described gaps in our state’s Equal Opportunity law as “scandalous”.

“It is frankly scandalous that people can be sacked because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Leigh Andrew Hill


Do you need some support?

If you are struggling with anxiety or depression, support and counselling are available from:

QLife: 1800 184 527 / qlife.org.au (Webchat 3pm – midnight)
QLife are a counselling and referral service for LGBTQIA+ people.

DISCHARGEDinfo@discharged.asn.au / discharged.asn.au
Discharged is a trans-led support service with peer support groups for trans and gender diverse folks.

Lifeline: 13 11 14 / lifeline.org.au

Beyondblue: 1300 22 4636 / www.beyondblue.org.au


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