Equality advocates are frustrated that laws preventing discrimination in faith-based schools have stalled in Parliament despite cross-party support for the reform.
“The rights of LGBTI students and teachers in faith-based schools should not be used as a political football,” said Just.equal spokesperson, Rodney Croome. “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.”
On Monday (3 December), the Government blocked debate on a Labor bill that would have prevented LGBTI students at religious schools from being discriminated against. Legislation is now not expected to pass until next year. Just.equal and other human rights groups have called for teachers to be protected from discrimination as well.
In April this year, national polling commissioned by Just-Equal and conducted by YouGov Galaxy found that:
• 82% of Australians oppose the current law allowing LGBTI students to be expelled from faith schools;
• 79% say teachers should not be discriminated against by faith-based schools for being LGBTI; and
• 78% say religious schools should not be entitled to tax-payer funding if they legally discriminate against gay, lesbian and transgender teachers and students.