1,000 Days of a Broken Promise Leaves 1,000s of LGBT kids at risk
‘An LGBT student who was in year 7 when Scott Morrison first promised to protect them will have already finished school before he finally gets around to doing anything about it – and that’s if he ever does.’ - Alastair Lawrie
Wednesday 7 July, 2021, marks 1,000 days since Prime Minister Scott Morrison first committed to protecting LGBT students in taxpayer-funded religious schools against discrimination – a promise he has since failed to honour (for more details on the original promise see below).
Highlighting this unwelcome milestone, Just.Equal Australia has called on Mr Morrison to take urgent action to protect 1,000s of vulnerable LGBT young people he has left exposed to potential mistreatment.
‘All students should have the right to learn in a safe environment, free from worrying about whether their own school will discriminate against them just because of who they are,’ Just.Equal Australia’s Rodney Croome said.
‘Scott Morrison must immediately do what he promised to do 1,000 days ago – repeal the special legal privileges allowing religious schools to mistreat, and even expel, LGBT kids.’
‘There are thousands, and possibly tens of thousands, of LGBT children who will start term 3 later this month with the debilitating fear of being discriminated against, on top of their studies, on top of the challenge of learning in a pandemic.’
‘Research shows the stigma, discrimination and bullying experienced by LGBT students lead to lower academic achievement and higher levels of depression, anxiety and suicide.’
‘LGBT students are being weighed down by an unfair burden, but one that could be removed very easily and quickly if only the Morrison Government wanted to.’
While Queensland, Tasmania, the ACT and Northern Territory have all amended their anti-discrimination laws to protect LGBT students, discrimination is still legally allowed in NSW, Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia.
‘The quickest way to ensure all students around the country enjoy the right to learn, irrespective of their sexual orientation and gender identity, is for the Morrison Government to amend the Sex Discrimination Act 1984,’ Just.Equal Australia Board Member Alastair Lawrie said.
Instead, former Attorney-General Porter referred the issue of religious exceptions to the Australian Law Reform Commission for review – and then delayed their reporting date until ’12 months from the date the Religious Discrimination Bill is passed.’ Based on current timelines, that means the ALRC would report in late 2022 at the earliest, with possible legislation in 2023, taking effect in 2024.
‘An LGBT student who was in year 7 when Scott Morrison first promised to protect them will have already finished school before he finally gets around to doing anything about it – and that’s if he ever does,’ Mr Lawrie added.
‘LGBT kids need protection, not prejudice. LGBT kids deserve action, not being abandoned by a Prime Minister who has yet to honour his promise,’ Mr Croome concluded.
Details of Scott Morrison’s original promise:
On Thursday 11 October 2018, responding to public backlash around the leaking of the Ruddock Religious Freedom Review recommendations, Prime Minister Morrison stated that: ‘We do not think that children should be discriminated against.’ [Source: ‘Scott Morrison backtracks on law to expel gay students’, Guardian Australia
, 12 October 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/oct/12/scott-morrison-backtracks-law-expel-gay-students
] He later committed to pass legislation honouring this commitment before the end of 2018, but to date has not introduced a Bill on this subject.
For a copy of this statement on the web, click here
For more information, including to speak to Alastair Lawrie, contact Rodney Croome on 0409 010 668.