Morrison will remove laws that allow schools to expel LGBT students

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced the coalition will introduce amendments to change the federal anti-discrimination laws so that schools will no longer have the right to expel students over their sexuality or gender identity.

The Prime Minister said the leaking of recommendations from the Ruddock Review into Religious Freedom in Australia has caused “unnecessary confusion and anxiety for parents and students alike”.

“Our government does not support expulsion of students from religious non-state schools on the basis of their sexuality,” he said. “I also know that this view is widely shared by religious schools and communities across the country.” the Prime Minister said.

During the week sections of the report which the government has been keeping under wraps for five months were leaked by Fairfax Media and The Australian. Yesterday all 20 of the reports recommendations were revealed online by Fairfax Media.

One of the recommendations highlighted that schools currently have the rights under federal law to discriminate against LGBT students. The report suggested that if schools were going to go down the path of expelling gay students they should be required to clearly advertise their ‘no gays allowed’ stance in policies and documentation prior to students being enrolled.

There was some confusion over whether the recommendation would overrule state law in jurisdictions like Tasmania, Queensland and the ACT where there are laws protecting LGBT students.

It was quickly shown that public opinion was against such exemptions continuing. In Western Australia Attorney General John Quigley announced an immediate review into the state’s equal opportunity laws, including a review of the provision which allows the practice in Western Australia.

Even conservative organisations such as the Institute of Public Affairs questioned the provision. The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference highlighted that it was not supportive of expelling students over their sexuality, and Dave Sharma – the Liberal’s own candidate in the upcoming Wentworth by-election – offered no support for existing provision.

Even Lyle Shelton, the former head of the Australian Christian Lobby said he did not support schildren being expelled from schools over their sexulatity, allow in another interview he reportedly said they should be expelled if they are sexually active.

On Thursday night the Prime Minister appeared on The Bolt Report on Sky News and stated that the government did not support gay kids being expelled.

“We do not think that children should be discriminated against,” Morrison said.

“I don’t think if someone’s at a school they should be kicked out because they have a different sexuality to what might be believed to be the appropriate thing by a particular religious group.”

Just days earlier members of the government had been giving vocal support for such a right. Special Minister of State Alex Hawke had declared opposition to the provisions was an assault on religious freedom and parents were choosing religious schools to protect their children from “Marxists”. Hawke said the issue was “manufactured” for political reasons and as most school students were under the age of consent it was a non-issue.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten called on the government to change the laws, pointing out if they didn’t believe in the right, they should meet the public’s expectations and change them.

Today the Prime Minister fell into line and vowed to introduce the legislative changes as soon as possible. Morrison said the taks would be undertaken within the next fortnight and “will give all students and parents the certainty they require”.

Equality advocates have welcomed both Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten’s support for banning discrimination against students in faith-based schools, and have called for the move to be extended to LGBTI teachers, admin staff and families.

Spokesperson for just.equal, Rodney Croome, said that preventing discrimination across school communities would be in the best interests of children.

“We welcome the move to prohibit discrimination against kids, but this is only half the job because discrimination against teachers, support staff, and LGBTI parents and their children, remains a problem and must also be brought to an end.”

“If students in faith-based schools are to receive the best possible education, teachers must be employed on the basis of their skill, not their sexuality.”

“Creating a safe learning environment for LGBTI children means banning discrimination across the school community, not just against LGBTI children themselves.”

“We call on Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten to make faith-based school communities safe for everyone by banning discrimination against LGBTI teachers and support staff, as well as LGBTI parents and their children.”

The week of debate around the report has been disastrous for the Morrison government. After previously claiming that the Ruddock Review could not be released because it was being considered by cabinet, government ministers spent the first part of the week repetitively stating that they were yet to lay eyes on the report and were unable to comment on it’s content.

The outcome of the first item for consideration has been seen as a spectacular ‘own goal’ for conservatives who pushed for the report into religious freedom following the passing of same-gender marriage legislation.

OIP Staff


Tags: , , , , ,