Scott Morrison pledges to pass religious discrimination bill



Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed that the National Liberal Party will push for the Religious Discrimination Bill to pass if it wins the federal election. But to make matters worse, additional protections for LGBTQIA+ students will not be introduced at the same time.

The Religious Discrimination Bill passed the Senate in February this year. The bill has been highly controversial because it essentially protects the rights of religious institutions — like schools — to discriminate against religious beliefs different from their own, including sexuality and gender.

The Coalition agreed to amend the bill so that people cannot be expelled from schools because of their sexuality. But they would not add amendments to protect people from deportation because of their gender identity, putting trans and non-binary children at risk.

The Religious Discrimination Bill was later passed by the Lower House with an amendment. The amendment was really important. This is an amendment to the pre-existing Sex Discrimination Act and was suggested by the South Australian Independent Rebekha Sharkie.

The amendment specified that LGBTQIA+ children could not be expelled from Christian schools. It would also mean that schools cannot discriminate based on people’s pregnancy or marital status.

You can read our full explainer of the bill here.

But the bill is in limbo because we are all well aware of the approach of a federal election. Two weeks to go everyone!

Now Morrison has outlined exactly how he will handle the Religious Discrimination Bill if the Liberals win the election. Morrison basically said it would be a standalone bill. This means that changes to the Sex Discrimination Act would not be brought forward at the same time as the Religious Discrimination Bill.

Basically a big fucking yuck.

At a press conference in Perth on Saturday, a reporter asked Scott Morrison what the schedule would be.

“[The Sex Discrimination Act] would be a separate issue and it would be a function of being able to deal with the other issue first,” Morrison said, by ABS.

“We would be dealing with the GDR [Religious Discrimination Act] first.”

When the reporter pushed him to clarify whether the legislation would pass simultaneously, Morrison repeated that they would deal with the Religious Discrimination Bill first.

Another reporter again questioned the delay and criticized it for “letting go of gay students”.

Morrison talked about her and brought up the election.

“Let’s see what happens in the election and see what the Australian public decides and that will help us from there,” he said. Ugh.

According to the ABC, the prime minister was also asked if the decision would cause tension within the NLP. That’s because a number of moderate liberals want the changes to the Sex Discrimination Act passed at the same time as the bill.

“Our commitment was to move forward with the GDR and we will move forward with the full RDA,” he said.

“I can’t wait for this to get the support of parliament.”

So in short: no surprise that Scott Morrison is abandoning LGBTQIA+ kids but awful nonetheless.

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Image: Getty Images/Jono Searle/Stringer

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