Australian rules on religious schools rejecting gay students

Sergio Conner
October 12, 2018

While the review's primary recommendation - to entrench the power of religious schools to discriminate on the basis of sexuality - appears dead on arrival due to Senate opposition, LGBTI advocates agree in theory that discrimination on the basis of religion should be outlawed.

"To the extent that some jurisdictions do not now allow religious schools to discriminate against students on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender characteristics, the panel sees no need to introduce such provisions", the report says.

The review also rejected any changes to the marriage act, a dedicated "religious freedom" act or that civil celebrants should be able to opt out of same-sex ceremonies.

Wentworth has a large gay community, as well as a significant number of Jewish voters.

He also pointed out that the Ruddock Review found no evidence of religious schools banning or expelling students due to their sexuality.

On Thursday the Greens sought to capitalise on anger about the Ruddock review proposals by promising to push to repeal existing exemptions that allow religious schools to discriminate against staff and students.

He says the recommendations made to the government suggest if certain schools wish to continue to turn away students and teachers based on their sexuality, they need to make it "abundantly clear".

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Commonwealth, state and territory legislation present a variety of provisions regarding discrimination based on sexual orientation, and various exemptions for religious schools.

Shadow Education Minister Tanya Plibersek said expanding discrimination was a "disturbing proposition".

"What kind of adult wants to turn away a child, wants to reject a kid because they are gay?" she said.

Mr Morrison acknowledged he should have expressed his opinion on Wednesday and said he was happy to take the criticism.

"We remain deeply concerned that under a Morrison government this bill will be drafted without regard to the interests of LGBTIQ people and other minorities who now bear the brunt of religious discrimination", she said. "We shouldn't even be having this debate", Mr Shorten told reporters in Melbourne, demanding the government release the report. The report apparently warns the government off making any radical changes to anti-discrimination laws such as allowing businesses such as bakers or florists to refuse to service customers because they are opposed to same-sex marriages.

Nevertheless, critics have said the report is less about the freedom to practice religion and more about discrimination by faith groups.

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