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Australian government accused of abandoning LGBTIQ students

Advocates have accused the federal government of leaving LGBTIQ students and rainbow families vulnerable to discrimination from faith-based schools.

It was last week revealed that Attorney-General Christian Porter has delayed the reporting date of the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) inquiry into religious schools being permitted to expel LGBTIQ students or refuse enrolment from rainbow families.

While Tasmania, Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory, and the Northern Territory outlaw such discrimination, other states and the Commonwealth do not provide this protection.

Rodney Croome, spokesperson for national advocacy group just.equal, accused the Attorney-General of using the same delaying tactics to hinder reform that were used against marriage equality.

“The ALRC inquiry was established to review the issue of LGBTIQ students in religious schools and to implement Scott Morrison’s promise to end discrimination against them before Christmas 2018,” said Croome.

“But now the government is saying it won’t release the ALRC report until a full year after the religious discrimination bill becomes law.

“That bill hasn’t even been tabled yet and there is no guarantee it will even pass through parliament, so what happens then?”

Croome said that given the timeframes involved, the matter was unlikely to be addressed before the next federal election.

“Clearly, the federal government is more interested in pushing laws allowing discrimination in the name of religion than protecting children from discrimination, so the states must step up,” he said.

“Victoria, New South Wales, and Western Australia no longer have excuses for ignoring this issue or failing to act.

“Other states have outlawed this discrimination against students, and there is no point in deferring to the federal government for leadership.”

In 2018, just.equal commissioned a survey on discrimination by faith-based schools against LGBTIQ students and teachers.

The national poll found that 82% of those surveyed did not believe religious schools should be allowed to expel LGBTIQ students, while 78% said that faith-based schools that discriminate against LGBTIQ students and teachers should not be entitled to public funding.  

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