Senator Stoker says religious protections needed to stop gay student clubs

Government senator Amanda Stoker has outlined her opposition to Labor’s legislation that have removed protections for religious based schools that currently allows students to be expelled because of their sexuality and gender.

Appearing on the Outsiders program on Sky News Senator Stoker said the issue had been “whipped up into a frenzy” during the Wentworth by-election.

During the Wentworth by-election Prime Minister Scott Morrison vowed to remove the exemptions as soon as possible but yesterday the government worked with the Centre Alliance to delay any further discussion on the bill until 2019.

Senator Stoker defended the government’s restrained approach saying there was no evidence that a school would ever expel a student over their sexuality.

“There is zero evidence of gay kids getting expelled from religious schools, it’s just not happening. When there are children who have these issues in religious schools they are overwhelmingly dealt with pastorally and caringly, and in a way that tries to support their welfare.” Stoker said.

Stoker said the concern about removing the protections, without including additional amendments for religious freedoms, was because of the threat of activist parents and activist children.

“Take for example the situation of a parent or child who wants to be an activist in a religious school. You’ve got a conservative Catholic school and you’ve got a child who wants to run a gay club within the school. That clearly contradicts with Catholic teaching and Catholic schools should have the right to say that’s not within the framework of the values we want for this school.” Senator Stoker said.

Senator Stoker spoke against the bill in the senate on Thursday. The Queensland senator said the effects of the bill would be “devastating”.

“By removing all protections that previously existed in the Sex Discrimination Act for religious schools to operate according to their ethos, the bill will hollow out the religious school sector to being nothing more than privately funded schools with the same values as public ones. In doing so, we deny parents a real choice about how their children are educated.” Senator Stoker said.

During her speech Senator Stoker also made the claim that activist parents and students, who do not live by the rules of a religious body, could try to change religions via the lack of exemptions from sex-discrimination legislation.

Senator Stoker said that while she believed in allowing exemptions for schools, everyone should be kind and inclusive to same sex attracted people and those with transgender “notions”.

“We need to be kind and inclusive and helpful to people who are same-sex attracted or people who have transgender notions.” the senator told parliament.

OIP Staff