‘Trojan horse’: Greens’ warning on rebooted religion bill

Greens MP Stephen Bates in federal parliament
Image: Australian Parliament

A long-awaited religious discrimination report will finally hit parliament this week but the Greens are worried the debate will get ugly as the Albanese government prepares to unveil Labor’s own Religious Discrimination Bill.

The federal government will table the Australian Law Reform Commission’s review of anti-discrimination laws and religious exemptions for faith schools on Thursday.

The Greens and the Coalition also anticipate Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus will unveil the draft Religious Discrimination Bill soon too.

Scott Morrison’s religious discrimination laws famously fell apart before the 2022 election. Several Liberal MPs crossed the floor to vote against it. Labor then promised they’d introduce their own version.

Today, Greens LGBTIQA+ spokesperson Stephen Bates said his party will “carefully consider” the ALRC report and Labor’s incoming draft bill.

But Stephen’s worried the rebooted religious discrimination debate will be “a Trojan horse for anti-LGBTIQA+ hate” all over again.

“We’ve been through this already in 2018 when Scott Morrison’s bill unleashed a torrent of LGBTIQA+ hate in our political system, our media and our community,” he said.

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

“Right now, religious institutions running schools, aged care, disability services, social housing and hospitals [are denying] people of their rights to be themselves or access to services.

“Last time, Labor stopped short of extending protections to LGBTIQA+ staff. The LGBTIQA+ community should not have to wait their turn when it comes to anti-discrimination laws.”

Stephen Bates said the debate must not “act as cover for more hate and division in our community.”

“We want to work with Labor to get the laws right to make sure people are free to practise their faith without discrimination and that people who rely on religious institutions for employment, social services or community aren’t discriminated against either.”

Michaelia Cash argues for schools’ religious freedom

A day earlier, shadow Attorney-General Michaelia Cash told Sky News she wants faith schools to “be able to conduct themselves in accordance with their values.”

“What they’re saying to me is, ‘Michaelia, we just want to educate. Under [Attorney-General] Mark Dreyfus and Anthony Albanese, we’re going to wind up litigating,’” the Liberal MP said.

“This affects tens of thousands of families. I would say to the government, be open and transparent in the way you deal with [the consultation].

“I just want religious schools to be able to operate in accordance with their values, their doctrines and beliefs.

“This is all about families and the choices they make to send their children to these schools.”

Greens education spokesperson Senator Penny Allman-Payne said private schools received billions in government funding.

“Why should private religious institutions subsidised from the public purse get exemptions from the rules that apply to public schools?” she asked.

“Our kids deserve an enriching school experience that exposes them to the full diversity of Australian life.

“Allowing some of the most privileged schools in the country to discriminate against staff on the grounds of their gender or sexual orientation perpetuates prejudice and division and must be consigned to the dustbin of history.”

Read more:

Attorney-General says new Religious Discrimination Bill is coming

NSW school St Ursula’s backflips after lesbian couple banned from formal

Anglicare Sydney reject same-sex carers in ‘alarming’ case

Gay author invited to Catholic school told not to say gay

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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.

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