PM Scott Morrison adamant that Religious Discrimination will be a priority

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has told reporters that he is adamant that a Religious Discrimination Bill will be passed before the government considers looking into any protections for gay and transgender students.

Over the weekend the PM was repeatedly asked to give a timeline for the reintroduction of the Religious Discrimination legislation, and while the PM wouldn’t commit to a time frame he was adamant that there would be no consideration for updating the Sex Discrimination act to protect gay and lesbian students until the Religious Discrimination protections became law.

Speaking to the media on Sunday the Prime Minister said the concern that was raised by members of his own government who crossed the floor to vote in favour of protections for gay and transgender students had nothing to do with the Religious Discrimination Bill.

“The issues that they were raising were not related to the Religious Discrimination Act, they were to do with the Sex Discrimination Act, and we should be to pursue them sequentially as we set out. I don’t give up on these things.” the PM said.

During his recent trip to Perth the Prime Minister said how the progression of the bill proceeds would be determined by the election outcomes.

“Let’s see what happens at the election, let’s just see what the Australian people decide, and then go from there.” Morrison said.

Asked why he couldn’t deal with the Religious Discrimination Bill and the requested changes to the Sex Discrimination Bill simultaneously, the PM said he’d made a commitment to put laws protecting religious beliefs first.

“Our commitment was to go forward with the RDA, we will go forward with the RDA in its own right and I look forward to that getting the support in the parliament.”

In another media call the PM said there was no evidence that gay or transgender students were being expelled from religious based schools.

“We’ve been having this conversation for about the last four years, and on each occasion it has been presented that apparently students are being expelled, each and every day, or each and every week, or each and every year. There is no evidence of that at all.”

“There is none.” the Prime Minister said. “The point is, it doesn’t happen.”

“There is no evidence, because the religious schools themselves don’t wish to do that. They don’t wish to it, this is an issue that has actually not occurring in these schools, and that is the clear evidence of those schools themselves.”

The Prime Minister said the sections of the Sex Discrimination Act that allow for discrimination against gay and transgender students were put in place by the Labor party, and suggested that the media had concerns over them they should direct their questions to the opposition.

“They were put in place by the Labor party, if you suggest there are deficiencies in those laws, you should put that to the Labor party – cause they wrote those laws.” the Prime Minister said.

Morrison has denied he’s written off the seats of moderate Liberals. Many of the politicians who backed changes to the Sex Discrimination Act are in marginal seats under threat at the election.

Tasmanian MP Bridget Archer has confirmed she remained opposed to the Religious Discrimination Bill, and Katie Allen has also stated her views remain the same. Liberal senator Andrew Bragg has also voiced his ongoing support for protections of gay and transgender students and teachers.

Rights group Just.Equal Australia has condemned Morrison’s plan to re-introduce the Religious Discrimination Bill.

It has also called on the PM to outline his policies for reducing discrimination against LGBTIQ+ people and the ill-health it causes.

Just.Equal Australia spokesperson, Brian Greig, said the government should scrap the Religious Discrimination legislation completely.

“The Religious Discrimination Bill must be scrapped because it takes away existing discrimination protections from people with disability, women, workers, religious minorities and LGBTIQ+ people.”

“We call on the Morrison Government to outline what it will do to reduce discrimination against the LGBTIQ+ community instead of trying to foster discrimination.”

“Just.Equal Australia’s comprehensive survey of LGBTIQ+ community election priorities show that removing existing religious exemptions from discrimination law, a national LGBTIQ+ mental health strategy and more inclusive schools are top priorities.”

Greig said Labor voted to remove existing state discrimination protections from teachers in faith-based schools when the Bill was debated in February.

“We have written to Labor asking for its policy on LGBTIQ+ teachers in faith-based schools but have not received a response.”

“We call on Labor to respond to our questions and to release its response to questions on the same topic from the National Catholic Education Commission.” Greig said.

The National Catholic Education Commission has called on both major parties to clarify how they will bring forward federal legislation for Religious Discrimination.

OIP Staff

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