The federal government has voted down a Senate motion from the Greens calling for LGBTIQ consultation on the religious discrimination bill.
Greens Senator Janet Rice put the motion forward in the Senate on Tuesday.
It took aim at the Coalition MPs who recently voted in support of a failed One Nation motion condemning medical care for transgender youth.
The motion also noted Liberal and National senators “voted in support of an earlier transphobic motion that would prevent government agencies from using inclusive language.”
Senator Rice’s motion then added, “It is still legal for schools to expel students and sack staff because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
“[This is] despite the commitment of the Prime Minister in 2018 to end discrimination against same sex attracted and gender diverse young people.”
The motion called on the Federal Government to “ensure the rights of LGBTIQ+ people are protected, including through changes to anti-discrimination law, rather than adopting positions that undermine the rights of LGBTIQ+ people.”
It also called for the government to “commit to consulting with LGBTIQ+ people, women, disability groups, minority religious groups and all others impacted, in the process of further redrafting its proposed legislation on religious discrimination.”
However the motion was voted down 30 votes to 26 on Tuesday. The government, One Nation and independent senator Jacqui Lambie voted against it.
Senator Rice said the vote was “alarming”. She said the government must draft the Religious Discrimination Bill in “an inclusive way that protects all Australians equally.”
BREAKING: Gov, PHON & Jacqui Lambie just voted down my motion calling on Gov to ensure LGBTIQ+ rights are protected & commit to consulting with LGBTIQ+ people, women, disability groups, minority religious groups & all impacted,when redrafting its religious discrimination bill 😤 pic.twitter.com/BojfnQ5Y0t
— Janet Rice (@janet_rice) June 22, 2021
Senator Dean Smith says government will consult on laws
Before the vote, Liberal Senator Dean Smith read a statement from the government in response.
“The Coalition government abhors discrimination and is committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of every young Australian,” he said.
“The clinical treatment of children experiencing gender dysphoria is a complex and evolving field.
“State and territory governments are being encouraged to work to develop a nationally consistent approach to best practice treatment with appropriate safeguards.
“The government has acknowledged the diversity of perspectives that senators in the broader community bring to this debate in good faith.”
Senator Smith went on, “The government believes schools should be not be permitted to discriminate against students or staff on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
“The government has stated that any changes to the Sex Discrimination Act should make clear that discrimination against students and staff is unacceptable while ensuring religious educational institutions can teach in a manner consistent with the tenets of their faith.”
He said the government would consult with LGBTIQ groups as it works on its new draft religious discrimination laws.
“The government will engage with LGBTIQ groups and will undertake thorough consultation ahead of any future reforms of Australia’s anti-discrimination laws,” he said.
“Assertions that the rights of LGBTIQ Australians have been or will be undermined or wound back are without foundation.”
Religious Discrimination Bill to return within months
However, LGBTIQ groups have argued that’s what previous drafts of the Morrison Government’s controversial Religious Discrimination Bill did.
Attorney-General Michaelia Cash recently said the legislation will make a comeback within months. Cash said she hopes to introduce a new draft to parliament by December.
Equality Australia says the Attorney-General must “deliver a proposal that protects everyone in our community, regardless of belief, equally.”
The group warns the bill mustn’t erode the rights of the LGBTIQ community or create unequal protections privileging people of faith.
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