Trans Students Won’t Be Protected Under The Morrison Government’s Religious Discrimination Bill
The bill will protect students being expelled on the basis of sexuality, but not gender identity.
The controversial new religious discrimination bill will seek to protect gay students from expulsion, but will not afford the same rights to trans students, a senior Morrison government minister has revealed on Tuesday.
The bill — which seeks to protect Australians’ rights to religious belief and expression — has caused a great deal of controversy in recent months, with critics pointing out that it paves the way for further discrimination of the LGBTIQ community.
On Monday, the Prime Minister reaffirmed his commitment to preventing children from expulsion based on their “sexuality”, but a new update on Tuesday confirmed that gender identity does not fall in the same category and — therefore — trans children will not be afforded the same protection.
Finance Minister and Senate leader Simon Birmingham confirmed the news on Tuesday, telling Radio National that “the proposal is to repeal the exemption as it relates to sexual orientation, [but] it doesn’t go further than that”.
Birmingham noted that the Australian Law Reform Commission will continue to look into the issue of gender identity discrimination, but this would be delayed by at least 12 months after the bill passes — which means trans children would not be protected during that time.
According to Birmingham, the bill seeks to see “as much discrimination removed as possible while respecting” religious schools’ ability to set their own ethos.
This announcement is in stark contrast to a promise Morrison made to Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese — in writing — on December 1 last year, in which he agreed to prevent any form of discrimination against a student on the basis of sexuality or gender identity.”
Due to divisions within the LNP over the controversial bill, the Coalition will likely require Labor support to pass, but it’s unclear exactly where the opposition stands on the bill.
Tony Burke, Labor’s manager of opposition business told Radio National that Morrison should be “true to his word” on ending discrimination for all students.
The bill is set to be debated in Parliament on Tuesday, the first sitting day of the election year.
The changes to the proposed legislation come after a Brisbane Christian school came under fire for forcing parents to sign an enrolment contract that outwardly condemned homosexuality. The contract has since been scrapped and the principal of the school has stepped down.
If you have feelings about the bill, or its blatant exclusion of trans students, I urge you to write to your local MP and express your thoughts before the bill is voted on. You can find details of your local MP here.