The Australian Prime Minister has been strongly condemned by LGBT rights groups – after he ordered an ‘investigation’ into an education anti-bullying initiative.
The Safe Schools program, which was set up by the former Labor government, launched under former PM Tony Abbott in 2014.
However, the anti-bullying programme has come under fire from the homophobic Australian Christian Lobby, with a prominent campaign backed by some MPs, claiming it is “dangerous” and “brainwashing” students. The campaign’s icon features a ‘traditional family’ blocking a pride rainbow.
Right-wing Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has today requested an investigation into the program, after his own backbenchers claimed it was “inappropriate” for young people to learn about lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and/or intersex (LGBTI) issues.
A statement from the program responding to the announcement says: “Safe Schools Coalition Australia welcomes all opportunities to demonstrate the positive impact of this important program and provide the facts and evidence behind it.
“This program was developed in response to requests from Australian teachers and principals looking for advice and resources to better support the diversity and well-being of their students and create safe learning environments.
“Already, close to 500 schools have opted in to the program, with over 15,000 teachers choosing to utilise the training and tools offered so they feel better equipped to support same sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse students, their families and peers.
“All students, staff and families deserve to feel safe, included and valued at school. Ensuring the well-being of all students and their equal access to education is what this program is all about.”
The ACL said: “This is a great first step to getting this program de-funded and taken out of our schools.”
It comes amid tension on LGBT rights in the country, as Turnbull’s government are blocking a free Parliamentary vote on equal marriage – which lobbyists say would likely fall in favour of equality.
The government instead plans to hold a non-binding ‘public vote’ on the issue after the election – which could stall the first marriages until 2018.
The anti-gay marriage lobby has exploited the planned vote to call for the suspension of hate crime laws – under the guise of permitting a “balanced” debate.