As schools start back this week, advocacy groups are calling on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to protect LGBTIQ students and teachers from discrimination.
Equality Australia, the country’s first legal advocacy and campaigning organisation, says it wants Mr Morrison to ensure LGBTIQ discrimination will not be enshrined in the proposed Religious Discrimination Act.
Most Australians want gay students and teachers protected
Equality Australia has released data that shows that nearly three quarters of Australians believe students and teachers at faith based schools should be legally protected from exclusion or firing on the basis of their sexual orientation, whether they are gay or transgender – including nearly 70 per cent of Liberal voters.
The organisation is demanding that Mr Morrison listens to his constituents.
“No student or teacher should be going back to school today feeling scared they’ll be kicked out or excluded for being who they are,” said Equality Australia CEO Anna Brown.
“With the Morrison Government’s so-called ‘Religious Freedoms’ bill due to be released within weeks, our Prime Minister must ensure that no future legislation enshrines state sanctioned discrimination against students and teachers.”
Morrison gone quiet on previous commitment
Last year, ahead of the Wentworth by-election, and under pressure from the wider community, Mr Morrison made a commitment to remove outdated laws allowing schools to discriminate against students.
“So far all we’ve seen is stalling, delay and attempts to introduce more discrimination, leaving LGBTQ students and teachers heading back to school with an uncertain future,” Ms Brown said.
Miles Heffernan, Litigation Director at Discrimination Claims, said the Prime Minister should honour his commitment.
“Discrimination is unlawful in almost every Australian workplace, and the Australian people have overwhelmingly agreed that there is no place for discrimination in our schools, no mater what they’re religious faith might be,” he said.
“There should not be one rule for one workplace, and another rule for a different workplace.”
PM’s religious beliefs concerning
Equality Australia fears that Mr Morrison’s Pentecostal faith, which is well known for it’s anti-gay teachings, could influence his decisions moving forward.
“Instead of creating more piecemeal laws, the Morrison Government should consolidate and modernise the federal laws that provide protections on the basis of race, disability, sex, and age, into a single Equality Act that protects everyone’s rights,” Ms Brown said.
We will be doing our utmost to ensure that any attempts to legislate to protect religious freedom do not come at the expense of equality for LGBTIQ people.”
READ MORE: What is discrimination?
If you have experienced discrimination based on your sexuality or gender, you may be entitled to compensation.
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