Inquiry chair says discrimination of LGBTIQA+ students should not be considered

Anne Webster, the Nationals MP who chairs the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, says her committee should not consider discrimination against LGBT teachers and students when it reviews the governments religious discrimination bill.

Speaking to Paul Karp at The Guardian on Monday, Webster said the inquiry will be “specifically about religious discrimination” and concerns about LGBT teachers and students should be dealt with separately.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison introduced the third version of the legislation into parliament last week, but agreed to refer it to the Human Rights committee after their were suggestions some Liberal members might cross the floor and vote against the bill over concerns that it could lead to more discrimination against women, people with disabilities, and LGBTIQA+ people.

Back in 2017 the PM said he’d close the loopholes in the Sex Discrimination act that allow LGBTIQA+ students to be expelled by religious based schools over their sexuality, but the only action that has been taken is a request for the Law Reform Commission to look into the issue one year after the Religious Discrimination bill is passed.

The government’s approach has been to push for the Religious Discrimination bill first, and leave LGBTIQA+ teachers and students waiting until at least 2023 before addressing the Sex Discrimination act’s loopholes.

While some moderate Liberals have threated to cross the floor if the inquiry does not deal with issue,  Liberal Senator Susan McDonald has referred to concerns about the legislation as “all the crazies coming out”.

Labor is yet to announce what their position will be on the legislation, and equality advocates have called for it to be completely scrapped.

The legislation is scheduled to be debated in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

Graeme Watson 

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