Gay teachers have spoken out against the Australian Government’s religious discrimination bill, saying it will make it easier for schools to fire staff for their sexuality.
The Senate inquiry has heard from two teachers who say they were fired for being gay.
Karen Pack lost her job in 2020 “purely because I’m gay and I was getting married to my partner”, she told the inquiry.
A Christian theological college fired her after she became engaged to her partner and the school received complaints calling the relationship “demonic”, The Guardian has reported.
“It was very clear that the problem wasn’t my teaching, my theology, or my character,” Pack said.
“It was purely because I’m gay and I was getting married to my partner, Bronte.
“What is happening at the moment with this legislation and others is an attempt, essentially, to purge the church of people like myself.”
Fellow teacher Nathan Zomprogno, who was fired after decades working in Christian schools, said that he and Pack were just two of many examples of such discrimination.
Zomprogno said that religious schools “can and do” fire staff solely for being LGBTIQA+.
“When I was challenged about my sexuality, I answered honestly and then I was told that there was no place for me at the school the following year,” he said.
“The connection was crystal clear.”
The Sydney Anglican Church has argued that another teacher, Stephanie Lentz, was fired not for being gay but for her belief that a person can be both Christian and gay.
The church claimed that a heterosexual teacher with the same belief would also be terminated.
Three Liberal MPs are reserving their right to vote against the religious discrimination bill.
With four other Liberal MPs having agreed to support it in return for greater protections for LGBTIQA+ students that the Attorney General appears to have gone back on, the bill is likely to require support from the Labor Party to pass.
The two parliamentary inquiries into the bill are due to report next week.