A report that was released earlier this week suggested that faith schools should have the right to discriminate against LGBTQ students.
The Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, signalled his support for the report, and started planning to amend the Sex Discrimination Act to reflect the report’s findings. Some states in Australia ban faith schools from discriminating against someone because of their sexual orientation, but the amendment to the law would have overturned their bans.
Defending himself at the time, Morrison told the Sydney Morning Herald: “We’re not proposing to change that law to take away that existing arrangement that exists.
“We have a report that’s been provided to the government. It’s a report to government, not from government. It’s a report that the government will be considering and developing a balanced response to, and we will do that in our orderly process, taking it through cabinet.”
When Morrison was asked if he was comfortable with a school excluding a student because of their sexuality he responded with: “It is existing law.”
His comments were condemned by LGBTQ activists and fellow politicians alike. Bill Shorten, the leader of the Labor Party, told the Sydney Morning Herald: “The fact of the matter is that every child is entitled to human dignity. We shouldn’t even be having this debate.”
He later added: “There should be no extension of discriminatory rights against people in this country.”
And following the backlash, it appears that Morrison has backtracked on his plans. In an interview with Sky News, he went against his previous comments, saying that he was “not comfortable” with the idea of a school refusing to take in an LGBTQ student or teacher.
On Friday, Shorten sent Morrison a letter saying that the Labor Party would support the government in amending the Sex Discrimination Act in order to remove the ability for schools to discriminate against students.
And in a new statement released earlier today, the government announced that it would amend the Act to remove the ability for any school to exclude a student because of their sexuality.
In a statement, Morrison said: “Our Government does not support expulsion of students from religious non-state schools on the basis of their sexuality.
“I will be taking action to ensure amendments are introduced as soon as practicable to make it clear that no student of a non-state school should be expelled on the basis of their sexuality.”