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Scott Morrison stands by exemptions for religious schools in sex discrimination laws

文字:[大][中][小] 2018/10/10     Views:11    

Scott Morrison stands by exemptions for religious schools in sex discrimination laws

  

  

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has backed the right of religious schools to discriminate against gay students in a political row over a confidential government report into religious freedom.

  

Mr Morrison played down the storm over the report by pointing to existing law that allows religious schools to discriminate against some staff and students.

  

The Prime Minister stood by this power in the face of a fierce debate over whether church groups and religious schools should continue to hold exemptions from discrimination law on the grounds of personal conscience.

  

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said there should be no extension of discriminatory rightsin any response to the review, adding that the report should be released so voters could see the advice to the government.

  

Fairfax Media revealed the key findings of the religious freedom review, chaired by former Attorney-General Philip Ruddock, in an exclusive report on Wednesday.

  

The report recommends that a new bill goes to federal Parliament to amend the Sex Discrimination Act to codify the way religious schools can discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or relationship status.

  

Mr Morrison said the key finding was not a changebecause the discrimination was allowed in existing law.

  

  

“Were not proposing to change that law to take away that existing arrangement that exists,the Prime Minister said while campaigning on the NSW Central Coast.

  

“We have a report thats been provided to the government. Its a report to government, not from government. Its a report that the government will be considering and developing a balanced response to, and we will do that in our orderly process, taking it through cabinet.

  

Mr Morrison was asked: So youre comfortable with a school expelling a student because they are gay or lesbian?


The Prime Minister replied: It is existing law.


  

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Social Services Minister Paul Fletcher also argued in media appearances on Wednesday that the review had not been considered by cabinet.

  

The review was handed to the government on May 28 after being commissioned by former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull to address fears that the passage of marriage equality laws last November would impinge on the freedom of religious groups to uphold their belief in traditional marriage.

  

Section 38 of the Sex Discrimination Act, last amended by federal Labor in 2012, gives education institutions an exemption on sexual orientation, gender identity and relationship status when the discrimination is in good faithto avoid injury to religious susceptibilities.

  

The section sets out the exemption for the employment of staff and contract workers as well as the provision of educationwithout specifically mentioning students.

 

The Ruddock review says this is not an easy balance to strikebut calls for a new law to be put to federal Parliament to amend the Sex Discrimination Act and codify the terms on which the exemption should apply.

  

If accepted, the recommendation would force a debate in Parliament on whether the exemption continues and how it is worded.

  

Some are preparing to campaign to scrap the exemption entirely, arguing it is out of step with community sentiment because it is wrong to claim an exemption from the law on the grounds of personal conscience.

  

Mr Shorten said the Ruddock report should be released before the Wentworth byelection on October 20 so voters could judge for themselves.

  

“If Mr Morrison wont release this secret report before the Wentworth byelection, he is telling the voters in Wentworth that he doesnt trust them,he said.

  

“It is an expert report. What could be in that report which is so bad that it has to remain hidden?

  

“There should be no extension of discriminatory rights against people in this country.


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