Australia’s former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce is facing anger after suggesting faith schools should keep the right to discriminate against transgender children.
The former leader of Australia’s Nationals made the comments as the country’s parliament debates plans to eliminate exemptions for faith schools that permit them to discriminate against LGBT+ children.
Joyce, a Member of the Australian Parliament for New England, said that any new rules should not apply to transgender children.
He told Sky News on December 5: “If I send my child to an all-girls’ school, I don’t want the complication and the possibility, and they haven’t completely ruled it out, that if someone turns up and says, ‘I want to identify was a woman, I want to identify as a girl, I want to go Into your bathrooms, I want to go into your change rooms, I want to be educated.’
“That might be that person’s right and wish, but everybody else says, ‘Well, that’s an affront on our rights’ and we want that issue dealt with.”
He added: “We want it dealt with clearly so that we know that our rights are protected and other people’s rights are respected.
“You cannot send a student whose genetic make up is XY … to a school established for people who are XX. It is not fair on the larger school unit that they have to change and accept all because of the desires of one.”
Barnaby Joyce rebuked for comments about transgender children
Joyce was contradicted by his party leader, the country’s current deputy prime minister Michael McCormack.
McCormack said: “I don’t want to see any child discriminated against and, quite frankly, I think what [Prime Minister] Scott Morrison has put forward means that no child will be discriminated against.”
Felicity Marlowe of Rainbow Families Victoria told The New Daily: “There’s a real lack of empathy and understanding abut the day-to-day impact of discrimination against transgender kids.
“We can’t continue to have people peddle so much misinformation. I would urge Barnaby Joyce to meet with some parents of children in faith based schools.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has submitted proposals to close the faith schools loophole, but LGBT+ groups have branded his new plan “deeply flawed” and warned his plans to codify new religious freedom exemptions could actually end up broadening the right to discriminate.
Just.equal warned that his bill “allows discrimination to continue against LGBTI students, and potentially broadens it out to other students.”
The opposition Labor Party also brought forward its own plans for a ‘clean’ bill to ban anti-LGBT discrimination in schools.
Just.equal spokesperson Rodney Croome said: “The rights of LGBTI students and teachers in faith-based schools should not be used as a political football.
“Australians were recently appalled to learn that publicly funded faith-based schools have special exemptions from the law allowing them to expel LGBTI students and sack LGBTI teachers, and they want this to stop immediately.
“Federal politicians should stop squabbling and look to Tasmania where LGBTI students and teachers in faith-based schools have been protected from discrimination for twenty years, without the sky falling in.”
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Barnaby Joyce has long anti-LGBT record
An opponent of same-sex marriage, in 2015 Joyce suggested that letting gay couples get married would harm the cattle trade.
In an interview with ABC, he insisted: “Where we live economically is south-east Asia, that’s where our cattle go.
“When we go there, there are judgments whether you like it or not that are made about us.
“They see us as decadent. I think that in some instances they would [see same-sex marriage as decadent].”
Joyce also said of equal marriage: “I don’t think if you go and pass a piece of legislation and say a diamond is a square makes diamonds squares — they’re two different things.
“It’s not making a value judgement about either.”
Joyce has also previously justified his opposition to equal marriage by telling GQ: “On most streets of Australia, people do not give a s**t about it.”
Despite invoking the sanctity of marriage as a reason to oppose equal marriage, Joyce had to resign as Nationals leader in February 2018 after admitting he had impregnated another woman while married.
Joyce left his wife, Natalie, after she discovered he had been having an affair with his former media adviser.