40% of parents want right to remove kids from schools that recognise same-sex marriage
Four in 10 Australians believe parents should have the right to remove their child from a school that recognises same-sex marriage.
The bombshell poll comes as the country debates new marriage equality laws.
Australians backed equality by a margin of 61.6% to 38.4% in a national postal ballot last week.
Now a Guardian poll of over 1,800 people has found that a large number of voters back so-called ‘religious freedoms’ for those who oppose the move.
Almost half of respondents, 42%, supported the right of parents to remove children from classes that do not support a “traditional” view of marriage.
Among people who voted for the Coalition, 52% backed parental rights to remove children from classes.
Another poll found half of Australians back the right of service providers to refuse same-sex weddings on the basis of private religious views.
The poll for Lonergan Research, 49% said they support service workers being able to reject gay couples, such as refusing to bake their wedding cake.
Just 35% thought same-sex couples should have the same access to goods and services, while 15% were unsure.
People who voted No in the postal survey were most likely to back the right of service providers to reject same-sex weddings (76%), closely followed by over 65s.
The poll also found that, even among supporters of equal marriage, 39% agreed with the proposition.
The polling backs up Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who is now trying to appease anti-gay conservatives in his party by holding a ‘religious freedom’ review.
As the vote was purely advisory, legislation on the issue is up to Parliament – where lawmakers inside Malcolm Turnbull’s conservative Coalition government are still divided on the best way to proceed on the issue.
Hardline conservatives have backed amendments to ensure the law enshrines the ‘freedom to discriminate’ against same-sex couples for people who disagree with equal marriage, while LGBT allies favour a ‘clean’ marriage bill that does not undermine existing rights protections.
In a bid to forge a consensus today, Turnbull announced a ‘religious freedom’ review that will take place separately from the marriage debate.
The review will be headed by former Liberal frontbencher Philip Ruddock, a strong opponent of LGBT rights who was key to a 2004 push to ban same-sex unions and outlaw adoption by same-sex couples.
The former Attorney General spent much of his time in office battling to undermine LGBT rights, heading to court to deny a veteran’s pension to a gay soldier’s partner.
In 2006 he also sought to block a gay Australian man from marrying in the Netherlands, refusing to grant a ‘Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage’.
Ruddock’s appointment is a major concession to anti-LGBT conservatives, and equality activists fear that the review will be used to undermine LGBT rights protections by introducing a religious ‘license to discriminate’ against gay couples.
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Turnbull said: “The impending legalisation of same-sex marriage has seen a variety of proposals for legislative reform to protect freedom of religion. Many of these proposals go beyond the immediate issue of marriage.
“Any reforms to protect religious freedom at large should be undertaken carefully. There is a high risk of unintended consequences when Parliament attempts to legislate protections for basic rights and freedoms, such as freedom of religion.
“The Government is particularly concerned to prevent uncertainties caused by generally worded Bill of Rights-style declarations.
“This will be a timely expert stocktake to inform consideration of any necessary legislative reforms.”
LGBT activists previously sent a letter to Parliamentarians warning against creating ‘freedom to discriminate’.