Politics

LGBTIQ Students Will Have To Wait Until 2019 For Protections, Thanks To ScoMo

"Someone will be suggesting a plebiscite next."

Well, the government’s done it again — absolutely failed LGBTIQ kids, that is. Thanks to some spectacular political nonsense this morning, laws to protect queer students from discrimination will now be delayed until some time next year instead of passing this week.

The anti-discrimination legislation we’re talking about is the bill to close existing loopholes allowing religious schools to expel LGBTIQ students. Labor had a bill ready to go earlier this week, but the government teamed up with Centre Alliance to block it from being debated in the Senate.

Given that the government had already committed to supporting protections for LGBTIQ students, blocking the bill was a pretty bizarre step to take and was pretty widely seen as an attempt by the government to avoid debating Labor’s legislation in the House of Representatives, where the government is now in the minority.

As Penny Wong put it in the Senate on Monday, “this is an indication of the chaos that is the Morrison government — that they have to upend the Senate and not vote on protecting LGBTIQ kids because they’re so worried about the lack of control they have in the House of Representatives”.

Since yesterday, the government’s gone even further to mess with the bill. After Labor managed to briefly get the legislation back on the table, the government proposed an amendment to the bill that would basically undo all of the protections the bill was meant to set up.

Basically, the government’s proposed amendment would have forced Labor to vote against its own bill, leaving us the same lack of protections for LGBTIQ students that we started with.

To top it all off, Scott Morrison followed this by introducing his own, separate bill today, which he claims will strike a better balance between protecting LGBTIQ kids and protecting religious freedoms. Given that the government has previously erred on the side of protecting religious freedoms at the expense of LGBTIQ kids, people were sceptical.

“The legislation announced today allows discrimination to continue against LGBTI students, and potentially broadens it out to other students,” Rodney Croome, spokesperson for LGBTIQ advocacy group just.equal, said today.

“This bill is deeply flawed and should be voted down by all MPs who want faith-based schools to be safe and productive learning environments.”

Greens LGBTIQ spokesperson Janet Rice voiced similar concerns, saying “it’s a complete backflip from the Prime Minister who promised in October to remove discrimination in schools. Now he is entrenching and expanding it.”

In short, the Government has destroyed one bill that would have helped protect LGBTIQ school kids from discrimination and proposed an absolutely rubbish alternative. Opposition leader Bill Shorten accused Morrison of “weaponising” an important issue, and basically said there was no way forward, at least not in the next two days. “I am not prepared to give up on removing discrimination against kids and respecting religion in our society, but what we don’t have today is a solution,” he said.

So given that neither bill can now proceed, and Parliament finishes up for the year tomorrow, there will be no protections for LGBTIQ school kids until 2019. Nice one, dickheads.