Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s pledge to protect LGBTQIA+ students in amendments to the religious discrimination package within the Sex Discrimination Act has been walked back less than 24 hours later.
Assistant Attorney-General Amanda Stoker intervened on Friday morning and said the Sex Discrimination Act “shouldn’t be changed unless we know the final form of the religious discrimination bill”.
There’s been hell of a lot of back and forth on this issue. In mid-January Attorney General Michaelia Cash’s department made submissions to two inquiries, which show that if the religious discrimination bill is passed, changes to the Sex Discrimination Act will be delayed for 12 months.
Then Citipointe Christian College happened.
Earlier this week the Brisbane private school came under fire for emailing parents an enrolment contract that would allow students to be expelled based on their sexuality or gender identity.
On Thursday Morrison took a stand against such discrimination.
“I do not support that,” he told Brisbane Radio B105.
“My kids go to a Christian school here in Sydney, and I wouldn’t want my school doing that either.”
He admitted the Sex Discrimination Act, as it sits, allows for schools to expel students based on their sexuality.
He went on to say an amendment within the religious discrimination package would be taken to parliament to change that.
“The bill that we’re going to be taking through the parliament, we will have an amendment which will deal with that to ensure kids cannot be discriminated against on that basis,” Morrison said.
“I’ve been saying that for years. That’s always been my view.”
Morrison made the same empty promise in 2018 but the amendment was never implemented.
Christian groups went in on Morrison after Thursday’s interview and promptly accused him of “betraying” the foundation of the religious discrimination bill.
One group told Guardian Australia that by introducing the amendments Morrison would be “ignoring the voice of the Christian community.”
Then on Friday morning Stoker told ABC RN that basically whatever Morrison said would happened, wouldn’t happen.
Maybe, just maybe, he was trying to win back a little love from the majority of voters that agree he’s a POS?
PR stunt or not from Scotty From Marketing, the bottom line is schools will in fact be able to discriminate against and even expel LGBTQIA+ students if the controversial bill passes.
Stoker said the government was still “looking for ways” to legislate Morrison’s promise but it ought to wait until after the religious discrimination bill had passed the senate.
“The reason I would suggest the original plan is to make sure that we legislate the religious discrimination act first, and then change section 38 of the Sex Discrimination Act,” she said.
Stoker also said she was concerned the amendment to the Sex Discrimination Act needed to “integrate well” with the religious bills.
“While we’ve got to make sure we’re doing the right thing by these kids, we acknowledge religious schools.. have a right to exercise their genuinely held religious beliefs, even if it might offend others in our community.”
– @stoker_aj, Assistant Minister to the Attorney-General
— RN Breakfast (@RNBreakfast) February 3, 2022
She also played the “personal responsibility card” to say maybe parents should choose a non-discriminatory school…
“A trans kid is facing a whole lot of social and personal challenges and need support… The real question is, as a parent, do you really want to send your kid to a school that has really traditional beliefs on this subject?”
We’re still waiting for the release of the two inquiry reports, but Stoker said that it was all still being worked through.
“It’s not my decision alone … We are trying to make it happen and I expect we’ll make it happen but I’m not going to sign it in blood,” she said.
Stern interviewing, on important and necessary principles. What a train wreck for @stoker_aj and the government.
Institutionalised homophobia and gender policing is potentially vicious and dangerous. In schools it is especially so. Human rights come before ‘religious freedom’.
— Jay Goodall (@Jayrgoodall) February 3, 2022
The private Brisbane school has finally withdrawn its contract, but it’s since been revealed that the school’s principal and a pentecostal pastor Brian Mulheran previously lobbied senators to allow employers “the right to discriminate” against queer people.
This is an absolute shitshow and, predictably enough, young queer and trans people are the ones caught in the firing line.