Morrison to use gay students as leverage for discrimination bill

Scott Morrison will seek to win over his party room on religious discrimination protections with a promise to ban church schools from excluding LGBTQI+ students.


Feb 08, 2022, updated Feb 08, 2022
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison introduce the tax offset (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison introduce the tax offset (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

Coalition MPs and senators are expected to discuss changes to the Sex Discrimination Act when they meet on Tuesday as federal parliament returns for the year.

Scrapping a clause that lets religious schools discriminate against same-sex attracted and gender diverse students is being proposed to secure support for Morrison’s bid to shield people expressing offensive religious beliefs from discrimination claims.

“I’m proposing to put forward an amendment to change that (Sex Discrimination Act) in good faith and because I think it’s the right thing to do,” the prime minister told reporters on Monday.

“That, I think, goes well together with the religious discrimination bill which I hope and certainly intend to become an act in the near future.”

The legislative package has drawn criticism from both moderate Liberals and conservatives as well as Christian lobby groups, the latter opposed to changing the Sex Discrimination Act.

The government’s religious discrimination bills are listed for debate in the lower house on Tuesday.

But many Liberals are concerned they will be compelled to vote on changes without enough time to properly consider them.

Backbencher Bridget Archer has threatened to vote against the religious discrimination laws on the grounds they override Tasmanian anti-discrimination legislation.

Morrison personally introduced the religious discrimination bills into parliament last year.

They would shield people expressing beliefs, even if these are considered offensive or insulting, as long as they don’t amount to harassment, vilification or threats.

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The bills are also designed to override state laws that limit when religious schools can preference hiring people of the same faith.

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese told his party room on Tuesday Labor still didn’t know the final form of the legislation.

Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus criticised the government for not working with Labor in a bipartisan way.

Caucus agreed it was premature to finalise its position on the discrimination changes.

Two cross-party committees last week recommended the laws be passed with some amendments.

Labor MPs and senators offered their conditional support despite criticising the way the government had gone about it.

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