Gay stu­dent laws back­flip

The Courier-Mail - - NEWS - EX­CLU­SIVE STEVEN SCOTT

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.

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