Schools should get right to discriminate against gay children in Australia, report says
Faith schools should be given the right to discriminate against children who are gay, the Australian government’s review on religious freedom has concluded.
The news comes from a government-commissioned review headed by former Attorney General Philip Ruddock, a foe of LGBT rights who opposed same-sex unions and tried to outlaw adoption by same-sex couples.
The review was completed months ago and has been presented to cabinet, the Sydney Morning Herald reports, but its conclusions are yet to be released publicly.
The newspaper reports that Ruddock recommended changes to the Sex Discrimination Act, which outlaws discrimination in schools, to give faith schools the right to discriminate against students and teachers on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or relationship status.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the report says: “To some school communities, cultivating an environment and ethos which conforms to their religious beliefs is of paramount importance.
“To the extent that this can be done in the context of appropriate safeguards for the rights and mental health of the child, the panel accepts their right to select, or preference, students who uphold the religious convictions of that school community.”
It adds that schools should have the right to discriminate in employment on the basis of religious belief, sexual orientation, gender identity or relationship status.
The exemptions would not extend to discrimination based on race or disability.
Australia’s ex-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull commissioned the divisive review of religious freedom protections in 2017, as a concession to his party’s evangelical wing in the aftermath of the country’s equal marriage vote.
The attempt to quell unrest was ultimately unsuccessful, with Turnbull deposed in August by current PM Scott Morrison, a hardline conservative and strong opponent of LGBT rights.
Morrison, an opponent of same-sex marriage and LGBT-inclusive education, recently landed himself in a major political spat with a 13-year-old girl.
He sparked the row on September 4 with a tweet about teachers being given transgender-inclusive training, writing: “We do not need ‘gender whisperers’ in our schools. Let kids be kids.”
He was later confronted on TV show The Project by transgender schoolgirl Evie Macdonald, who took him to task for the remarks.
She told him: “There are thousands of kids in Australia that are gender diverse. We don’t deserve to be disrespected like that through tweets from our prime minister.
“I know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of attitudes like this.
“I went to a Christian school where I had to pretend to be a boy and spent weeks in conversion therapy. We get one childhood and mine was stolen from me by attitudes like this.”
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He said: “I love all Australians, whatever background they come from.”
The Prime Minister continued: “The point I was making was simply this—I want kids to be allowed to be kids and I want parents to be respected as the parents of those children.”
“I don’t think teachers get to take the place of parents and the choices that families make.”