The tears of a professor during an investigation into religious laws | Magnet


A former teacher choked back tears as she described the bullying of one of her gay students that led them to make two attempts to kill themselves.

Elise Christian of Equality of Voices said she found a 12-year-old girl crying behind a door while working at a Catholic school after the boy’s sexuality was targeted by other students .

“I found him shaking and sobbing, saying ‘I don’t know how to be a different person from who I am,'” she said during a parliamentary inquiry into religious discrimination bills.

Ms Christian said another student was told by his peers to “kill himself right now because God hated him and he would go to hell anyway.”

“Please listen to the stories of children, youth, members of your faith community who can tell you what it is like to experience this discrimination and how harmful it has been for many of us,” he said. -she implored parliamentarians on Tuesday.

Wendy Francis of the Australian Christian Lobby insisted that Christian schools do not discriminate or expel students on the basis of their sexuality, but does not want changes to be made to other laws that affect them. grant the exemption to do so.

Jacinta Collins, executive director of the National Commission for Catholic Education, added that she had yet to see any credible research concluding that Catholic schools “discriminate against people on the basis of their personal attributes.”

Ms Collins said the laws were meant to protect the right of people to associate with their own communities, not to discriminate against people who do not hold the same religious view.

The commission also argued that Catholic schools could prioritize hiring like-minded staff.

But Equality Australia officials said the exclusions in discrimination laws for religious institutions “have been used to essentially purge people on the basis of their sexuality.”

“It puts one set of Australian rights over another set of Australian rights,” said CEO Anna Brown.

Ms Brown said that while she supported protecting people of faith, the laws in their current form were problematic and could even lead to the rescinding of bans on actions such as conversion therapy.

Concerns have also been expressed that the legislation is a “legal nightmare”, with experts warning that disputes under the laws could go on for years.

The Australian Discrimination Law Expert Group has questioned the application of the contentious clause protecting a “statement of belief” from discrimination.

Statements must be made in good faith and based on honest beliefs and cannot be malicious or amount to what a reasonable person would consider threats, defamation, harassment or intimidation.

ADLEG’s Liam Elphick said there would be no way to prove in court whether the remarks were made in good faith or had malicious intent.

His colleague Robin Banks added: “There is no clarity as to who has to prove it, and that will make things more complex.”

The Council on Aging has criticized the laws as tolerating humiliation based on religious belief.

The investigation is expected to deliver its final report by February 4 with a tight deadline to avoid criticism.

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Associated Australian Press

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