This week marks 1,000 days since Prime Minister Scott Morrison first committed to protecting LGBT students in taxpayer-funded religious schools against discrimination – a promise that advocates have highlighted he has failed to honour.
Just.equal Australia has called on Morrison to take urgent action to protect the LGBT young people he has left exposed to potential mistreatment.
“All students should have the right to learn in a safe environment, free from worrying about whether their own school will discriminate against them just because of who they are,” said Rodney Croome.
“Scott Morrison must immediately do what he promised to do 1,000 days ago – repeal the special legal privileges allowing religious schools to mistreat, and even expel, LGBT kids.
‘There are thousands, and possibly tens of thousands, of LGBT children who will start term 3 later this month with the debilitating fear of being discriminated against, on top of their studies, on top of the challenge of learning in a pandemic.
“Research shows the stigma, discrimination, and bullying experienced by LGBT students lead to lower academic achievement and higher levels of depression, anxiety, and suicide.
“LGBT students are being weighed down by an unfair burden, but one that could be removed very easily and quickly if only the Morrison Government wanted to.”
Queensland, Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory, and the Northern Territory have all amended their anti-discrimination laws to protect LGBT students, but discrimination is still legally allowed in other states.
“The quickest way to ensure all students around the country enjoy the right to learn, irrespective of their sexual orientation and gender identity, is for the Morrison Government to amend the Sex Discrimination Act 1984,” said just.equal Australia board member Alastair Lawrie.
Instead, former Attorney-General Christian Porter referred the issue of religious exceptions to the Australian Law Reform Commission for review, then delayed their reporting date until “12 months from the date the religious discrimination bill is passed”.
Based on current timelines, the Commission will report in late 2022 at the earliest, with possible legislation in 2023, taking effect in 2024.
“An LGBT student who was in year 7 when Scott Morrison first promised to protect them will have already finished school before he finally gets around to doing anything about it – and that’s if he ever does,’ Lawrie said.
Croome said that young people need “protection, not prejudice”.
“LGBT kids deserve action, not being abandoned by a Prime Minister who has yet to honour his promise,” said Croome.