Gay student laws backflip
PRIVATE schools will be banned from expelling gay students, under a Government plan to stop backlash over a review of religious freedom.
Insisting he would not accept discrimination against gay children, Prime Minister Scott Morrison (pictured) vowed to introduce tougher laws and said he wanted them through parliament within the next fortnight.
Leaked sections of a review of religious freedom headed by former Attorney-General Philip Ruddock recommended allowing religious schools to sack teachers and expel students if they were gay, if this breached religious tenets, and was explained in policy.
After two days of trying to stem the fallout, Mr Morrison said he would rule out discrimination against students.
“To address this issue, I will be taking action to ensure amendments are introduced as soon as practicable to make it clear that no student of a nonstate school should be expelled on the basis of their sexuality,” he said. “Our Government does not support expulsion of students from religious nonstate schools on the basis of their sexuality.
“I also know that this view is widely shared by religious schools and communities across the country.”
The Government has held on to the recommendations of the review for five months, fearing a divisive debate.
Mr Morrison’s response comes as polls suggest the Liberals could lose the by-election in Malcolm Turnbull’s socially progressive Sydney seat of Wentworth next weekend. Earlier, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten had demanded the Government rule out discrimination against students.
“I don’t mind saying I have been a bit disappointed in the last 48 hours about the strange silence of our Prime Minister o on the issue of whether or not we should extend laws to allow discrimination against kids w who are gay,” Mr Shorten said.
Mr Morrison said the leaked recommendations had been misreported and the review actually proposed strengthening anti-discrimination laws.
“This misreporting has created unnecessary confusion and anxiety for parents and students alike,” he said.
Current laws vary from state to state. Queensland allows religious schools to sack teachers based on their sexuality, but does not allow discrimination against students.
The Prime Minister said he would consult with the Opposition in a bid to reach a bipartisan position on any changes to anti-discrimination laws.