Words: Steve Brown
The Australian prime minister has abandoned his pledge to take action on discrimination against LGBT students.
In October, Scott Morrison revealed that the government will be reassessing anti-discrimination legislation to protect the rights of LGBT students and ban religious schools from expelling LGBT students over their sexuality.
He originally promised to remove discrimination exemptions for LGBT students in schools by the end of 2018 but now, after backtracking on his promise, it means the issue cannot be addressed until late 2019.
Now, Morrison promised a Religious Discrimination Act to protect Australians’ religious freedoms meaning discriminating against someone over their religious beliefs would be equivalent to racism, sexism, ageism and homophobia.
He said: “If you support a multicultural Australia, you’ll be a supporter of religious freedoms.
“You’ll understand that religious faith is synonymous with so many different ethnic cultures in Australia.
“The protection of religious freedoms is therefore synonymous with our identity and it’s particularly relevant in Australia because of our incredibly diverse multicultural society.
“Australia is a secular democracy but that does not mean that Australians are a godless people.”
But The Greens LGBTIQ+ spokesperson Senator Janet Rice has warned that the new act could weaken protections for LGBT people.
Rice said: “Scott Morrison’s Religious Discrimination Act must not be a Trojan horse to expand discrimination against LGBTQ+ people, like his proposed discrimination in schools bill.
“Discriminating against someone because they are LGBT+ is not religious freedom, it’s discrimination. Plain and simple.
“The Prime Minister has already demonstrated he is out of touch with Australians who want discrimination against LGBT+ people in schools removed.
“Freedom of religion is not a licence to discriminate against LGBT+ people.”