Labor calls for an end to discrimination against LGBTI students and teachers

Labor is calling on the government to immediately amend the Sex Discrimination Act to remove outdated exemptions that allow religious schools to discriminate against students and teachers on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

THE HON MARK DREYFUS QC MP
SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL
SHADOW MINISTER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY
MEMBER FOR ISAACS
 
LABOR CALLS FOR END TO DISCRIMINATION AGAINST LGBTI STUDENTS AND TEACHERS
 

Labor is calling on the government to immediately amend the Sex Discrimination Act to remove outdated exemptions that allow religious schools to discriminate against students and teachers on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
 
We welcome the consensus from both sides of politics that exemptions that impact on schoolchildren should be removed as soon as possible.
 
But it is clear this does not go far enough.
 
If it is unfair for a student to be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation and gender identity in a religious school, how can the same thing be fair for their teacher? It just doesn’t make sense, and it’s wrong.
 
These laws are no longer appropriate, if indeed they ever were appropriate.
 
From our discussions with religious schools and organisations, it’s clear that overwhelmingly schools don’t discriminate against students, and don’t wish to retain an ability to do so.
 
Labor is extremely disappointed at Mr Morrison’s refusal to work with Labor on removing exemptions for teachers. We hope he reconsiders this response, which is clearly out of line with what Australians want.
 
Of course, we respect the right of religious schools to run their schools in line with their beliefs and traditions, and any change to the law should protect that.
 
Our LGBTI students and their teachers don’t deserve to live in fear that they will be kicked out of their schools because of who they are or who they love.  This is not appropriate in 2018.
 
The government’s amendments must not stop at students. They must include the abolition of exemptions for teachers and other staff.
 
If they don’t, we will pursue an amendment of our own.
 
Scott Morrison must release the Ruddock review in full without delay, and make clear the Government’s response to the recommendations.  Doing so would not only assist this debate, but allow the voters of Wentworth to be fully appraised of the facts before making their decision about who they vote for on Saturday.
 
MONDAY, 15 OCTOBER 2018