Kristina Keneally admits Labor may support sacking LGBTIQA+ teachers

Senator Keneally

Labor’s Shadow Home Affairs Minister Kristina Keneally has admitted that Labor may support faith-based schools maintaining their ability to sack LGBTIQA+ teachers.

Senator Keneally is currently in the senate, but will be hoping to make the switch to the House of Representatives at the upcoming federal election. Keneally, who is a former NSW Premier, will be running in the Division of Fowler that covers Sydney’s western suburbs.

Appearing on the ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday morning, Senator Keneally said the party were committed to ensuring that LGBTIQA+ students were protected under any Religious Discrimination laws but refused to give a definite answer on where the party stood on protections for teachers who are employed by faith-based schools.

Senator Keneally said when it came to teachers, the issue was “more complex” and should be referred to the Australian Law Reform Commission for deeper analysis.

“Labor also supports the right of religious schools, faith-based schools to be able to hire staff, whether it is teachers or other staff, that support the mission and the values of the school,” Senator Keneally said.

“What’s important here is that schools are able to have staff that uphold the values and mission of the school. They are mission-based organisations and they are to support development within a faith.

“But there are some intersections and there are some complexities and so we agree that the Australian Law Reform Commission should look at it.”

Senator Keneally said she understood the school’s challenges based on her own experience as a Catholic School teacher, however it was not her personal belief that teachers or staff should be dismissed over their sexuality or gender identity.

The Labor frontbencher however said she understood there was a need to all staff at a faith-based school to be adhering to the religion the school was a part of.

“I’m a former Catholic teacher myself, my children and I were all educated in the Catholic school system, and I well understand the Basketball Coach that leads the prayers before you go out on the court, it’s the staff in the front office and how they deal with students.

Pressed by host David Speers, Keneally said there were some challenges around the intersections of different rights, and that’s why Labor supported the issue being sent to the Law Reform Commission.

“I do think that teachers and other staff are in a slightly different category than children, so it’s straight forward with children, we think there are some slight complexities with teachers and staff that should be looked at by the Australian Law Reform Commission.”

Senator Keneally said Labor remained committed to bringing in Religious Discrimination legislation if elected to government, but would look to create a bill that encapsulated the amendments they put forward in the House of Representatives earlier this week.

Senator Keneally previously outlined her views in a discussion with Family Voice Australia. A commitment to allow faith-based schools to dismiss employs on the basis of sexuality or gender identity would override Tasmania’s current discrimination laws.

OIP Staff

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