Labor Has Announced It Will Back The Govt’s Religious Discrimination Bill & People Are Furious

The Labor party has decided to support the government’s Religious Discrimination Bill, despite the ways it could harm trans and gender non-conforming youth.

ICYMI, on Tuesday it was revealed that while the Sex Discrimination Act will be amended to ensure students and teachers can’t be expelled by religious schools for their sexual orientation, the same protections won’t extend to trans people.

That means the Religious Discrimination Bill, if passed, would give religious schools the right to discriminate against trans people. That move has been heavily criticised by the LGBTQIA+ community and their allies.

And now Labor has said that it’ll support the Bill. That decision came from an internal caucus: the Bill hasn’t been introduced to Parliament yet. But Labor will try and pass amendments which would aim to protect trans students.

There are four key amendments agreed on by the Labor caucus, including protecting LGBTQIA+ students from being discriminated against by religious schools because of their gender or sexual orientation.

Labor’s plan is to propose amendments in both the lower house and in the Senate. The government doesn’t have a majority in the Senate, so Labor has a better chance of pushing through the amendments there.

On Wednesday night, Labor leader Anthony Albanese said that the Bill could “tear us apart” if it isn’t changed. Labor has also said it’ll “insist” on the amendments if they’re passed in the lower or upper house, as per The Guardian.

It’s not enough, though.

If Labor’s amendments are unsuccessful then Australia is going to have a law which protects religious institutions instead of trans and non-binary people.

A group of Labor MPs voted in favour of a motion to oppose the Religious Discrimination Bill in the lower house if the amendments don’t pass. But that motion was defeated.

Labor could have voted against the Bill. It could have stuck its neck out for trans kids. But it chose not to.

“Labor will move amendments to remove discrimination in the Religious Discrimination Bill in the House,” tweeted MP Stephen Jones.

“If they don’t get up we will move them in the Senate. If that fails we commit to removing discrimination if Labor wins the May election.”

Jones has received particular criticism for supporting the Religious Discrimination Bill because he gave a moving speech in Parliament about his nephew Ollie. Ollie took his own life at age 15.

“He was uncertain about his gender and struggled with his mental health. Now he is gone,” Jones said.

“Clearly the love and acceptance of his family and friends was not enough.”

Labor’s decision to go with amendments has copped a load of heat online.

Seeking amendments to a Bill which will actively harm trans and gender-nonconforming kids is just not good enough. It’s more than a slap in the face to the trans and gender non-conforming community. It’s a political choice not to protect vulnerable young people.