Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed the Liberal National Party will push for the Religious Discrimination Bill to be passed if it wins the Federal Election. But to make matters worse, added protections for LGBTQIA+ students won’t be introduced at the same time.
The Religious Discrimination Bill passed through to the Senate in February of this year. The bill has been super fkn controversial because it essentially protects the rights of religious institutions — like schools — to discriminate against religious beliefs different to theirs, including sexuality and gender.
The Coalition agreed to amend the Bill so people couldn’t be expelled from schools because of their sexuality. But they wouldn’t add amendments to protect people from being expelled for their gender identity, putting trans and non-binary kids at risk.
The Religious Discrimination Bill then passed the Lower House with an amendment. The amendment was really significant. It’s a change to the pre-existing Sex Discrimination Act and was suggested by South Australian Independent Rebekha Sharkie.
The amendment specified LGBTQIA+ kids can’t be expelled by Christian schools. It would also mean schools can’t discriminate based on peoples’ pregnancy or marital status.
You can read our full explainer of the Bill here.
But the Bill is in limbo because we are, famously, in the run up to a Federal Election. Two weeks to go everyone!
Now Morrison’s outlined exactly how he’ll handle the Religious Discrimination Bill if the Liberals win the election. Essentially Morrison said it would be a stand-alone bill. That means the changes to the Sex Discrimination Act wouldn’t be pushed forward at the same time as the Religious Discrimination Bill.
Essentially, a big fucking yikes.
At a press conference in Perth on Saturday, a reporter asked Scott Morrison what the timeline would be.
“[The Sex Discrimination Act] would be a seperate issue and it would be a function of being able to deal with the other matter first,” Morrison said, per SBS.
“We would be dealing with RDA [Religious Discrimination Act] first.”
When the reporter pushed him to clarify if the legislation would be pushed through simultaneously, Morrison repeated that they’d deal with the Religious Discrimination Bill first.
Another reporter asked again about the timeframe and brought up the criticism that he was “abandoning gay students”.
Morrison spoke over her and brought up the election.
“Let’s see what happens at the election and let’s just see what the Australian public decides and that’ll help us to go from there,” he said. Ugh.
As per the ABC, the PM was also asked whether the decision would cause tension in the LNP. That’s because a number of moderate Liberals want the Sex Discrimination Act changes to be passed at the same time as the Bill.
“Our commitment was to go forward with the RDA and we will go forward with the RDA in in its own right,” he said.
“I look forward to that getting the support in the parliament.”
So in short: not a surprise that Scott Morrison is abandoning LGBTQIA+ children but awful all the same.