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Calls for government to talk with crossbench to ensure LGBTIQA+ protections

Just.Equal Australia has called on the Albanese Government to abandon attempts to work with the Opposition to prohibit LGBTQ+ discrimination by faith-based schools, and negotiate with the crossbench instead.

The call came after the Opposition’s spokesperson, Senator Michaelia Cash, said it requires a “positive right” not only allowing faith-based schools to discriminate but overriding existing state and territory laws preventing LGBTQ+ discrimination.

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Just.Equal spokesperson, Rodney Croome, said the coalitions demands were unacceptable.

“The Coalition is trying to kill off the push to end LGBTQ+ discrimination in faith-based schools by issuing ever more extreme demands.”

“The Morrison Government’s Religious Discrimination Bill attempted to override Tasmanian LGBTIQ+ hate speech laws, but now Michaelia Cash has gone one step further by calling for state and territory discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ students and teachers in faith-based schools to be rolled back.”

“Clearly, any law the Albanese Government negotiates with the Opposition is a law we will have to reject.”

“We call on the Government to negotiate with the cross-bench instead because they are likely to take a more reasonable and constructive approach.” Croome said.

Senator Cash, who failed to pass a bill on religious discrimination during her time as Attorney General, has told The Australian that the Labor government needs to rework their bill to be more like the legislation put forward by the Morrison government.

“Faith leaders have told us they are concerned the government has moved away from the positive language used to protect freedom of religion in the ­Coalition’s 2022 bill,” Senator Cash said.

“Instead, it has adopted language more consistent with ­exceptions. This has been a long-term issue for faith leaders, who do not see freedom of a religion as a mere exception, but instead as a fundamental human right that is protected under international law.”

Senator Cash said not only did there need to be a right for faith leaders to discriminate, but state laws also need to be rolled back.

“The Prime Minister should guarantee that religious schools are able to ensure that their staff members’ conduct and behaviour adheres to the school’s religious ethos,’’ she said.

The Australian Law Reform Commission inquiry recently recommended ending anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination by faith-based schools.

Rodney Croome, said the latest statement from the Coalition exposes the real motive behind the push for ‘religious freedom'”.

“The push for a so-called ‘positive right’ for ‘religious freedom’ is really about rolling back existing discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people.”

“Senator Cash has finally let the cat out of the bag.” Croome said.

Victoria, Queensland, the ACT, the Northern Territory and Tasmania all have laws that provide some protection from discrimination for LGBTQ+ people in faith-based schools, Tasmania for over a quarter of a century.

Croome went on to demand the Albanese Government meet with a wide range of representatives of the LGBTQ+ community.

“News reports regularly cite the Prime Minister’s meetings with religious leaders, but as far as we know he is not meeting with representatives of the community most affected, the LGBTQ+ community.”

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