Greens call to scrap school chaplain program in LGBTIQ election pledge


Greens senator Janet Rice
Photo: Australian Greens

The Australian Greens have announced a suite of LGBTIQ policies in the lead-up to the federal election, which will be held before the end of May.

The policy platform, unveiled on Friday by the party’s LGBTIQ spokesperson Senator Janet Rice and Victorian Greens candidate Adam Pulford, cover discrimination, health, homelessness, and conversion therapy.

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Rice said the policies included the establishment of a national LGBTIQ+ health strategy, and appointing both an LGBTIQ+ Human Rights Commissioner and a Minister for Equality.

“LGBTIQ+ people continue to face many challenges in our society, such as students and teachers being expelled and fired from religious schools, higher rates of mental health issues and homelessness, and enduring sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts,” Senator Rice said.

“We can and must do better.

“The Greens policies will mean LGBTIQ+ people have the right to be free from discrimination, have autonomy over their bodies, and have access to holistic and comprehensive health services and secure housing.”

‘Secular, unbiased and inclusive support for students’

The Greens have pledged to scrap the school chaplains program, which was allocated $247 million in funding over four years in the Coalition’s 2018 budget.

Instead, the Greens have pledged to invest the money in “secular, unbiased and inclusive support for students through counsellors and antibullying initiatives such as the Safe Schools Program.”

The Greens have also vowed to remove controversial religious exemptions from Australia’s anti-discrimination laws that allow faith-based organisations to discriminate against people on the basis of sexuality or gender identity, a move that has tripartisan support in the parliament but has been stuck in a political deadlock since last October.

Rice also pledged that the Greens would “stamp out dangerous sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts,” commonly known as “gay conversion therapy”.

“We know from survivors that the ex-gay and ex-trans conversion movement extends beyond formalised therapies in subtle and insidious ways,” Rice said.

“These change efforts pervade some religious communities, faith-based organisations, schools and the counselling industry.

“The Greens plan will support survivors of sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts and their allies to stamp out these practices and fund $1 million for LGBTIQ+ faith organisations to build capacity for self-advocacy and $500,000 into a public health and awareness campaign.”

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The Greens’ policies will also protect LGBTIQ rights in law through a Charter of Rights and establish a ministerial advisory group on LGBTIQ issues “to provide strategic advice to ministers and ensure decisions affecting LGBTIQ+ communities are made only after meaningful consultation.”

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