Wednesday, 24 November 2021
Religious Discrimination Bill 2021
I rise to make some remarks about the discussion we're about to have about religious discrimination. I think it's important that we pursue this through the lens of seeking freedom for all Australians. If this parliament is to grant Australian schools more scope to act in accordance with the ethos of the institution then I think we need to look at the long-running issue, which is that too many Australian teachers are being sacked for being gay. I think that the existing exemptions in the Sex Discrimination Act are not fit for purpose. I think that we need to separate the question of ethos from raw discrimination. I don't think that someone should be sacked for being gay. I don't think that teachers will be sacked for being Jewish or of a particular ethnicity, but I do think—and I do know—that teachers are being sacked in New South Wales for being gay.
So if we're going to go down this path of providing schools with more authority to act in accordance with their ethos, which is an entirely reasonable proposition, then we need to clean up this issue where too many teachers—and, indeed, students—are being excluded from schools. We need to align the process so this can be all dealt with at the same time. It's a very important principle and we want all Australians to have access to these institutions, free from discrimination in all forms.