Tuesday, 16 October 2018
I seek leave to amend general business notice of motion No. 1114 standing in my name by adding the words 'or gender identity' after the words 'sexual orientation' in sections (a)(ii) and (b)(ii).
Leave not granted.
by leave—I move the motion as it stands:
That the Senate—
(i) the recent partial release of the 'Ruddock Report' into religious freedoms in Australia, and
(ii) that, in response, both the government and the opposition have now committed to repealing sections of the Sex Discrimination Act 1984, which allow independent schools to sack teachers and expel children on the basis of their sexual orientation; and
(b) calls on the Federal Government to:
(i) work with the states and territories to achieve consistency in anti-discrimination laws,
(ii) withhold federal funding to any schools which engage in discrimination against teachers or students on the basis of sexual orientation, and
(iii) deny charity tax concessions to any organisation or commission responsible for a school that engages in discrimination.
The Ruddock review proposed to strengthen protections for students from discrimination by proposing restrictions to the laws introduced by the previous Labor government which gave religious schools greater ability to expel students where the school considered that was necessary according to the doctrines of their religion. Recent misreporting about this proposal and the current law has created unnecessary confusion and anxiety for parents and students alike. The Prime Minister is taking action to make it clear that no student of a non-state school should be expelled on the basis of their sexuality. The government is 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.
Labor has offered the government our support in removing exemptions that allow religious schools to discriminate against children and staff on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity. However, Labor also respects the rights of religious organisations to run their schools in line with their beliefs and their doctrine, and we will be talking further with schools to ensure that they are able to teach their students according to their religious beliefs while not discriminating against students or staff. Labor does not support the parts of this motion calling for federal funding and charitable status to be withheld from religious schools because of the impacts such punitive measures would have on all students.
The Greens support this motion and all of its parts. In particular, we would have supported the addition of 'or gender identity' to 'sexual orientation'. All schools need to be safe for all students regardless of their sexual orientation and regardless of their gender identity. I am appalled that leave was not given in this chamber to allow Senator Hinch to add the words 'or gender identity' to his motion. It shows that there is an extreme level of transphobia in this chamber, which is completely appalling.