PM accused of failing to deliver on promise to end discrimination

LGBTIQ rights advocates say the Morrison Government has failed to honour its 2018 pre-election commitment to end the legal loophole that allows children to be discriminated against by faith-based schools because of their sexuality or gender identity.

This week, in response to questions during Senate Estimates from Victorian Greens Senator, Janet Rice, government representatives said the matter was referred to the Australian Law Reform Commission and that its inquiry has been put on hold until the government has finalised its Religious Discrimination Bill which has been pending for two years but not yet introduced.

With new Attorney General Michaelia Cash looking on, Senator Rice grilled representative of the Department of the Attorney General about the government’s policy that says religious schools should not be allowed to expel students over their sexuality, and the ongoing existence of laws that allow it to legally occur.

When government representatives said they could not put a timeline on the introduction of the new religious freedom legislation, or revisiting the anti-discrimination legislation, Senator Rice noted that the students who were in Year 7 when the Prime Minister pledged to fix the problem would be in Year 11 before any action was taken.

just.equal spokesperson, Rodney Croome, said the government was guilty of failing to address the issue.

“Scott Morrison’s commitment could not have been clearer and the government’s dodging and weaving could not be more obvious.”

“Preventing school children from being discriminated against because of who they are is a simple commitment that doesn’t need in-depth inquiries, fancy amendments or cross referencing to other legislation.” Croome said.

“It just needs the will to prevent harm to LGBTQ young people, a will the government clearly lacks.”

Discrimination by faith-based schools against LGBTQ+ students is prohibited in Tasmania, the ACT, NT and Queensland, but allowed under the Federal Sex Discrimination Act. Student who are intersex however do have some protections.

just.equal say the proposed Religious Discrimination Bill allows increased discrimination in the name of religion against LGBTQ+ people, women, people with disability and others.

Back in 2018 the Prime Minister said the issue would be fixed within a fortnight. Since making the commitment there have been several changes with Michaelia Cash taking over as Attorney General, and Queensland Senator Amanda Stoker being appointed as Assistant to the Attorney General.

Senator Stoker has previously spoken out against protections for LGBTQ+ students in religious schools. In 2018 Senator Stoker said the laws were needed to protect schools from activist children who might want to start up gay and lesbian clubs within schools.

OIP Staff

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