Religious freedom review by year's end: PM

13 October, 2018, 22:41 | Author: Myra Gill
  • Australian PM Scott Morrison

Until the report is formally released the detail won't be clear but there are many ways to undermine LGBTI rights in religious schools and elsewhere without touching Section 38.

Controversially, the report calls for the federal Sex Discrimination Act to be altered to allow religious schools to discriminate against students on their sexual orientation, gender identity or relationship status - something some but not all states already allow.

Morrison said the Ruddock review had not yet gone to cabinet and the government had a "timetable to deal with this by the end of the year", appearing to confirm fears of former high court judge Michael Kirby and the independent candidate Kerryn Phelps it will not be released until after the 20 October Wentworth byelection.

A long-awaited review into religious freedoms in Australia does not recommend any changes to the basis on which faith-based schools can reject students or teachers, the attorney-general has confirmed.

The ABC has confirmed one recommendation would force religious schools that discriminate against students to be open and up-front about their rules and beliefs.

"To some school communities, cultivating an environment and ethos which conforms to their religious beliefs is of paramount importance", the review says, according to Fairfax Media.

Special Minister of State and Liberal MP Alex Hawke tells Ben religious schools should have the right to discriminate.


While the report is expected to infuriate conservatives and worry others, Prime Minister Scott Morrison defended the review on Wednesday, saying that religious schools turning away gay students was already an "existing law".

Morrison was commenting on the contents of the leaked report on religious freedom, reigniting debate about what constituted unlawful discrimination against gay people just months after Australia's Parliament voted to legalize same-sex marriage.

He also pointed out that the Ruddock Review found no evidence of religious schools banning or expelling students due to their sexuality.

"What kind of adult wants to turn away a child, wants to reject a kid because they are gay". "We shouldn't even be having this debate", opposition leader Bill Shorten said.

The Yes (to same-sex marriage) Campaign said redefining marriage would have "no consequences" for other peoples' beliefs.

"The Ruddock inquiry recommendations are direct and shameful assault on the dignity and equality of LGBTI people and we will oppose their implementation tooth and nail". Schools also must publicly available policy that outline their position and regard the best interests of the child as the "primary consideration of its conduct".

The panel reportedly did not accept that businesses should be allowed to refuse services on religious grounds, such as denying a gay couple a wedding cake.

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