Fury over PM’s ultimatum on religious discrimination laws

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Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has caused outrage with an ultimatum around his government’s looming religious discrimination legislation.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported Anthony Albanese told a Labor caucus meeting on Tuesday morning he wouldn’t put the draft laws forward unless opposition leader Peter Dutton and the Coalition supported them.

Scott Morrison’s own religious discrimination bill famously fell apart before the 2022 election. Several Liberal MPs ultimately voted against it in parliament.

At the time, Labor promised to introduce their own reforms. Now, the government has a pair of as-yet-unseen draft bills ready, the Herald reports.

Anthony Albanese confirmed he’d told Peter Dutton his new proposal must have bipartisan support before the legislation proceeds, to prevent divisive debate in the parliament.

Time to fix ‘significant gaps’ in Australian laws

However, LGBTQIA+ advocates aren’t happy. They say this ultimatum will likely delay one crucial reform: the long-awaited repeal of laws that permit discrimination against LGBTIQA+ people.

Exemptions in Australian law currently permit religious schools and other faith-based organisations to discriminate on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, intersex status, marital or relationship status.

Equality Australia says the exemptions are archaic and create “significant gaps” in legal protections impacting workers, students and service users.

Anthony Albanese previously made an election promise to change the laws, but that’s something the Coalition is unlikely to support.

“While we continue to wait for the law to change, more people will lose their jobs and more children will be denied leadership roles or be forced to leave school,” Equality Australia’s Legal Director Ghassan Kassisieh said.

“We have spent more than a decade raising this issue, with many reviews and attempts to change the law.

“If the Prime Minister is serious about fulfilling his election commitment, he can take simple and quick steps right now to end discrimination against LGBTQ+ students and staff in religious schools.

“The law is out of step with 21st century community expectations and it’s time for it to finally change.”

Albanese ‘selling out’ queer community

Just.Equal spokesperson Rodney Croome said Coalition support for the move was “very unlikely” and blasted Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

“Last year, Albanese walked across Sydney Harbour Bridge to mark WorldPride,” he said.

“Now, he’s throwing us off the bridge to appease those who want the right to expel, sack and otherwise mistreat us.

“In its entire time in office, the Coalition failed to protect LGBTIQA+ students and staff from discrimination by faith-based schools. It’s very unlikely to have changed its mind.

“By giving the Coalition a veto over Labor policy, Anthony Albanese has broken Labor’s election commitment and sold out LGBTIQA+ students and staff.”

Rodney Croome said his home state of Tasmania had banned such discrimination “for a quarter of a century without the sky falling in.”

Liberal Michaelia Cash argues for religious freedom

At the weekend, the Coalition’s shadow Attorney-General Michaelia Cash said she’d heard “very concerning things” about Albanese’s proposals.

She demanded religious schools be able to “operate in accordance with their values, their doctrines and beliefs.”

“There is a real risk here that religious schools will not be able to conduct themselves in accordance with their values,” the Liberal MP told Sky News.

In response, the Greens said religious schools – particularly those receiving public funding – shouldn’t be discriminating against people.

Greens LGBTQIA+ spokesperson Stephen Bates said he’s also worried that, just like in 2022, the revived religious discrimination debate will “unleash a torrent of LGBTIQA+ hate in our political system, our media and our community.”

“Anti-discrimination laws can’t be a Trojan horse for other kinds of discrimination,” he added.

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Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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