Religious Freedoms Review: Minus18 Submission

BY Adrian Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Our submission on legislative exemptions that allow faith-based educational institutions to discriminate against students, teachers and staff

"Thank you for the opportunity to provide a submission to the Senate inquiry into  Legislative exemptions that allow faith-based educational institutions to discriminate against students, teachers and staff, including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and other attributes covered by the Sex Discrimination Act 1984, with particular reference to proposals for amendments to current legislation, and any related matters.

Minus18 calls for the laws to be changed so that any religious organisation that receives public funding can no longer discriminate on the basis of sexuality or gender identity . We support the call to remove Section 38 from the SDA Act so that all LGBTIQ+ students and staff are no longer facing discrimination because of their sexuality or gender identity at the faith-based schools they go to or work in.

We note that in early October the LGBTIQ rights lobby group Just Equal, released a YouGov Galaxy poll, finding that:

● 82% opposed the existing discrimination law exemptions that allowed expulsion of gay and lesbian students, and;

● 79% opposed the schools’ ability to fire teachers if they married a person of the same sex.

● Furthermore, The YouGov poll found 78% of respondents opposed religious schools’ ability to fire transgender staff or expel transgender students.

On behalf of Minus18 and the young LGBTIQ, gender diverse and non-binary people we work with from around Australia, we are submitting our petition to the Senate inquiry.

Our petition was launched on October 11, 2018 in response to the comments made by the Prime Minister in regards to students being discriminated against in faith-based schools because on their sexuality or gender identity.

As we write this submission our petition has over 52,000 signatures registered, over 20,000 of which were received within the first 48 hours of the petition being launched.

Some of the reasons young people, their parents, teachers and allies have given for signing are:

● “I am a LGBTQIA+ teenager and go to a good school. I am signing because I want this to be the same for everyone.”

● “Kids shouldn't have to go through this at all”

● “We shouldn't have to hide.”

● “No one should have to live in fear because of who (they) are.”

● “As the parent of an LGBTIQ teenager (who attends a public school), the thought of any child being discriminated against at their school makes me both furious and heartbroken.”

● “As a Christian, I am called to love all, and not to discriminate”

● “My faith in a God of love means I absolutely oppose discrimination”

● “Religious freedom shouldn't allow the discrimination and humiliation of anyone.”

● “Any exemption from equality is segregation in school, no teacher, librarian, admin worker or student should ever be discriminated against on the basis of their sexuality, gender identity, marital status or pregnancy.”

● “I have friends who are gay and are wonderful teachers.”

● “As a teacher and a parent I know how important school is for a child's sense of self and community. These laws endorse a culture of homophobia and intolerance at odds with Jesus' own teachings.”

● “These schools receive public, taxpayer money. They shouldn't be allowed to discriminate against employees.”

We intend to deliver our petition to the Prime Minister Scott Morrison. We welcome any further questions from the Committee."