Should religious schools be allowed to reject homosexuals as students and as staff? The basic clash here is between the Biblical view of homosexuality and the current secular view. The two are probably irreconcilable. They certainly have been so far. Putting it crudely, are homosexuals admirable or an abomination? The Bible view is very clear, in both the Old and New Testaments.
Real Christians endeavour to live as the Bible commands. Is it the word of God or is it not? If you think it is, your course is clear. Christians have died for their faith so a "worldly" law is not likely to move them. They would be quite likely to defy it
The issue is likely to be decided by the need to placate Muslims. Prosecuting Muslim school leaders for practicing Islam will just stick in all throats. In the Hadiths, Mohammed tells his followers that homosexuals should be thrown from the top of tall buildings. That is pretty clear disapproval
Two federal Liberal Party MPs are warning that a debate over religious discrimination laws must not again descend into a culture war that captures LGBTQ Australians in its crosshairs, as faith leaders and equality advocates urged the Albanese government not to delay legislating.
Tasmanian MP Bridget Archer and NSW senator Andrew Bragg were among a small bloc of moderate Liberal MPs who broke ranks with their party room in favour of stronger protections for LGBTQ students during the former Morrison government’s failed attempt to pass religious discrimination laws on the cusp of the 2022 federal election.
A renewed debate on the issue is expected to kick off when federal parliament returns in February and Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus releases the findings of a review by the Australian Law Reform Commission. The review is designed to inform the government’s plans to legislate a religious discrimination framework while also bolstering protections for LGBTQ students and staff at religious schools.
Archer and Bragg said their positions remained unchanged on the issue and that any reform must simultaneously protect people of faith while also repealing laws that provided a legal basis for discrimination against LGBTQ teachers and students.
Archer, who went a step further than the other moderate Liberals and crossed the floor to vote against the Morrison government’s proposed religious discrimination act, said while she supported protections for people of faith from discrimination, she remained concerned the issue would again be caught in a fight over “identity politics, culture wars and moral panics that never really ends well”.
“The Albanese government needs to be very clear from the outset if they are introducing this legislation, what are they trying to achieve? What’s the problem we’re seeking to solve? This would be worthwhile to justify what I would guarantee will be the damage to people on the way through,” she said.
Archer said a clear lesson from the last parliament was that vulnerable Australians, in particular LGBTQ students, were exposed to a protracted, divisive debate.
The debate devolved into a political fight over whether faith schools should retain legal exemptions in the Sex Discrimination Act to discriminate against gay and transgender students and staff, including in employment and enrolment practices. The Morrison government’s proposal to couple its religious protections with a ban on schools expelling gay students, but not trans students, inflamed the debate.
Of the six Liberals who split from the party room in 2022, only Archer, Bragg and MP-turned-NSW senator Dave Sharma remain in parliament after the others lost their seats at the election. Sharma declined to comment.
Bragg said he had written to Dreyfus in 2022 urging Labor to deal with the issue early in their term. “I agree with the religious leaders that the government shouldn’t leave this to the last minute – that’s a recipe for disaster. I do believe there is a strong case for federal protections for people of faith,” Bragg said.
“I don’t want to see any minority group, whether it’s LGBTQ groups or it’s a religious group, damaged as part of this debate. I think that’s very achievable, but Labor has to deliver a constructive, collaborative process.”
After the Coalition’s aborted attempt in 2022, Labor went to the election promising its own religious discrimination and anti-vilification laws to close a gap in the federal law – which already has anti-discrimination acts covering age, race, sex and disability – while also outlawing discrimination at faith-based schools against staff and students based on their gender status and sexual orientation.
Dreyfus received the report from the law reform commission in December and is expected to release it in February, with religious leaders and equality groups hopeful laws will be introduced into parliament before July.
What’s the proposed religious discrimination law about?
Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne Peter Comensoli said he was eager for an exposure draft of Labor’s legislation to be made available in the first half of the year.
“The further delay in the release of the [Australian Law Reform Commission] report until February pushes out the timeline for the government in dealing with the Religious Discrimination Bill. This raises the risk of pushing the bill into the election cycle, which would be most unfortunate, and should be actively avoided,” Comensoli said.
Anglican bishop of South Sydney Michael Stead insisted that no Anglican schools wanted the right to discriminate against LGBTQ students – a view echoed by other faith groups – and said he expected the sticking point this time around for religious institutions would be securing their rights to preference staff who reflected the school’s religious ethos in hiring practices.
“The last thing that any of the communities want is for this to still be an election issue next time around. I’m really hopeful that it can be done in this calendar year,” Stead said.
Equality Australia chief executive Anna Brown said after years of failed attempts to change the law it was vital the Albanese government did not delay these reforms any longer.
“Students should be able to go to school and be supported to learn and grow as who they are, and teachers should not fear losing their jobs because their sexuality or gender, or because they support a student who is gay or trans,” Brown said.
“We urge all MPs to deal with this issue in a measured and respectful way to spare LGBTIQ+ communities, particularly young people, the distressful and hurtful debate that took place when this issue was last before federal parliament.”