Tuesday, 16 October 2018
Religious Freedom Review
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) Australia is a tolerant and accepting nation and discrimination against LGBTI Australians has no place in our national laws,
(ii) the Government has had the Review into Religious Freedoms since May 2018, and has so far refused to release it so Australia can have a proper debate about these important issues,
(iii) repeated leaks over the last week have suggested that the review will recommend changes to exemptions from anti-discrimination legislation in relation to LGBTI students and staff,
(iv) many religious education institutions have made clear that they do not use, nor do they want, these exemptions, and
(v) these exemptions are out of step with the views and beliefs of most Australians; and
(b) calls on the Federal Government to:
(i) immediately introduce legislation which would abolish the current exemptions that permit discrimination against LGBTI students and staff in religious schools, and
(ii) immediately release the Review into Religious Freedoms so the Australian people can have a mature debate about how we can best balance protection of religious freedom with the rights of people to live free from discrimination, in compliance with the orders of the Senate of 19 September and 20 September 2018.
The expert panel that conducted the Religious Freedom Review undertook a comprehensive engagement with the community and received over 15,000 submissions. As a result, the government is carefully considering the expert panel's report and will respond to it in due course. The Prime Minister has already announced changes to strengthen protections for students from discrimination by proposing restrictions to the law introduced in 2013 by the previous Labor government, which gave religious schools greater ability to expel students where the school considered that it was necessary according to the doctrines of their religion. Recent misreporting about the proposal and the current law has created unnecessary confusion and anxiety for parents and students alike. The government are currently working on the proposed amendments, and we will consult with the opposition and others to work on a bipartisan basis to provide certainty in this area.