Saturday, 20 October, 2018

Row over Australia plan to let faith schools reject gay students

A religious freedoms report apparently recommends schools to reject gay students and teachers.                    Creative Commons A religious freedoms report apparently recommends schools to reject gay students and teachers. Creative Commons
Jeannette Daniel | 12 October, 2018, 08:08

Former Liberal minister Phillip Ruddock, who chaired the review, said the right of religious schools to turn away gay students and teachers should be enshrined in the Sex Discrimination Act.

Mr Morrison said the Government is still considering its recommendations.

There was also a suggestion that religious-based schools should have discretion to discriminate in the hiring of teachers on the basis of religious belief, sexual orientation, gender identity or relationship status.

The review was ordered after last year's same-sex marriage victory to placate conservative MPs who anxious the change would reduce people's ability to practise their religion freely.

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

The review recommends that the permission to reject students would only apply to new enrollments and would need to be clearly communicated to students when they joined the school community.

PRIME Minister Scott Morrison is being urged to amend the Racial Discrimination Act or create a new Religious Discrimination Act after a report to Government recommended laws banning discrimination against people of faith.

Several states have protections against discrimination on the grounds of religion, but federal law only prevents such discrimination in the field of employment.

More news: Major League Baseball announces start times for Red Sox-Astros ALCS games

Until the report is formally released the detail won't be clear but there are many ways to undermine LGBTI rights in religious schools and elsewhere without touching Section 38.

Premier Mark McGowan said he was "personally uncomfortable" with religious schools discriminating against gay students and teachers, but the review would look at what reforms were necessary.

Debate about religious schools' right to discriminate flared in November past year after it was revealed a gay relief teacher was removedJU from the roster at South Coast Baptist College in Waikiki after revealing that he was in a same-sex relationship.

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

The panel's recommendation does not go so far as to allow schools to discriminate on the basis of race, disability, pregnancy or intersex status, and called on any state legislation allowing that to be repealed.

Other members of the religious freedoms panel include Human Rights Commission president Rosalind Croucher, former Federal Court judge Annabelle Bennett and Australian Jesuit priest and human rights lawyer Frank Brennan.

"We do not think that children should be discriminated against", Mr Morrison told Sky.

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