Morrison promise to re-introduce Religious Discrimination Bill slammed
Labor still to answer questions on LGBTQ+ teachers
Greens LGBTIQ+ policy welcomed for setting high standard
Just.Equal Australia has slammed Scott Morrison’s promise to bring back his Religious Discrimination Bill if re-elected.
Yesterday Mr Morrison gave a commitment to religious lobby groups that he will re-introduce the Bill withdrawn last year after it was amended by moderate Liberals and Labor to protect LGBTQ+ students in faith-based schools.
Just.Equal Australia spokesperson, Brian Greig, said,
"Mr Morrison says the Bill will prevent discrimination on the ground of religion, but it actually allows discrimination in the name of religion."
"The groups most adversely affected will be people with disability, religious minorities, women seeking health care and LGBTIQ+ people."
"This Bill is straight out of the American culture wars and meets no real need according to a review led by former Howard Minister, Philip Ruddock.”
Mr Morrison is quoted as saying,
"If re-elected, we will pursue passage of the Religious Discrimination Bill as stand-alone legislation in the next parliament and will not accept any attempts to make changes to other laws that undermine protections for religious institutions."
Labor still to answer questions on LGBTQ+ teachers and other workers
Mr Morrison’s promise makes it more urgent that Labor outlines its position on the Bill, including protections for teachers and other staff in faith-based organisations.
Up until now Labor has failed to answer key questions about how it would deal with staff in faith-based organisations.
Six weeks ago, Just Equal Australia wrote to Labor’s Shadow Attorney General, Mark Dreyfus, asking him to clarify Opposition policy on LGBTQ+ teachers in faith schools and LGBTQ+ staff in other faith-based organisations.
More recently, the National Catholic Education Commission (NCEC), wrote to Labor asking similar questions and insisting on a reply by last Friday, 29 April.
Spokesperson for Just Equal Australia, Brian Greig, said his organisation then wrote to Mr Dreyfus again to ask for a reply by the same deadline requested by the NCEC. There has been no response.
“Labor’s failure to tell the LGBTQ+ community what an Albanese Government would allow and disallow in a Religious Discrimination Bill is deeply concerning."
“Labor has made it clear it would protect LGBTQ+ students, however, its position on teachers and other workers is unclear,” Greig said.
On February 10th, Labor Leader Mr Albanese released a statement saying Labor would:
‘protect teachers from discrimination at work, whilst maintaining the right of religious schools to preference people of their faith in the selection of staff.’
Mr Greig said this statement implied that existing - at work - LGBTQ+ teachers and staff will be protected from discrimination under a Labor, but faith schools will be permitted to deny employment to any future LGBTQ+ teachers and staff.
“We asked Mr Dreyfus if a Labor Government would allow faith schools to refuse to hire LGBTQ+ teachers and staff by deeming them to be at odds with the school’s ‘faith values’ – but he has not answered.
Just Equal also asked if Labor would protect LGBTQ+ employees working in faith-based services such as employment providers, charities, hospitals, aged care and housing services – but he did not answer.
Mr Greig said that if the ALP is going to permit discrimination against LGBTQ+ teachers and staff in faith services it would be breaking a promise not to override exiting state laws.
“Tasmania, Victoria and the ACT already protect LGBTQ+ teachers at the point of recruitment.
“If Federal Labor is going to allow discrimination on this basis it will have to override state laws – something it has said it won’t do but then went ahead did anyway when it voted on the religious discrimination Bill in February.”
Just Equal has called on Labor to make public its response to the NCEC.
“We also call on Labor to answer our questions from almost two months ago and to do so well before the election.”
Greens high-standard LGBTIQ+ policy welcomed for setting high standard
Just.Equal Australia has welcomed the Greens LGBTIQ+ policy saying it it increases pressure on both major parties to release their own LGBTIQ+ policies.
Mr Greig said,
"We welcome the Greens' policy for setting a high standard on issues of deep concern to the LGBTIQ+ community, including removing existing discrimination exemptions, school inclusion, tackling homelessness and funding for better health care."
"We're particularly pleased the Greens have proposed funded strategies for community education, as well as legislative protections and redress, for people with variations of sex characteristics and for survivors of conversion practices."
"The Greens' high standard LGBTIQ+ policy increases pressure on the other parties to release their own LGBTIQ+ policies ahead of the election."
Mr Greig said some important issues are not mentioned in the Greens' policy including inclusion of LGBTIQ+ people in the Census, the removal of the gay, bi and trans blood ban, and a focus on mental health.
"We urge the Greens to make their existing commitment to these reforms clearer.”
For a copy of this statement on the web, click here
For more information contact Brian Greig on 0407 776 961.