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18th of October 2018

International



Gay and trans students to be turned away from religious schools in Australia

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Church schools in Australia may soon be legally allowed to reject gay and transgender students to protect ‘religious freedom’.

The leaked contents of a review into religious freedom prompted fears that the Government may bolster anti-LGBT rules in the Sex Discrimination Act.

The report, which is chaired by former attorney-general Philip Ruddock, was ordered by Prime Minister Scott Morrison after the legalisation of gay marriage prompted fears that people’s religious freedom may be infringed.

**IMAGE OUTSIDE OF SUBSCRIPTION DEAL, FEES APPLY** Mandatory Credit: Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/REX/Shutterstock (8137394ak) Amnesty International Gay pride Participants during the Midsumma festival pride march in St Kilda Midsumma Pride March, Melbourne, Australia - 29 Jan 2017 The religious freedom review could discriminate against gay and transgender students (Picture: Asanka Ratnayake/REX/Shutterstock)

The review aimed to address the concerns of religious communities who feared marriage equality would infringe on their right to act in accordance with their beliefs.

Britain's Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, look at traditional native Australian ingredients during a visit to Mission Australia social enterprise restaurant, Charcoal Lane, in Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. Prince Harry and his wife Meghan are on day three of their 16-day tour of Australia and the South Pacific. (Phil Noble/Pool Photo via AP)Harry and Meghan chow down on chargrilled kangaroo for lunch

It said: ‘There is a wide variety of religious schools in Australia and … to some school communities, cultivating an environment and ethos which conforms to their religious beliefs is of paramount importance.

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‘To the extent that this can be done in the context of appropriate safeguards for the rights and mental health of the child, the panel accepts their right to select, or preference, students who uphold the religious convictions of that school community.’

The review said any amendments would only apply to new students, and that schools should still make chldrens’ welfare the ‘primary consideration of its conduct’.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Richard Milnes/REX/Shutterstock (8862586j) Protesters 'Pride March Against Trump and Turnbull', Sydney, Australia - 11 Jun 2017 Protesters marched from Sydney Town Hall along Oxford Street to Taylor Square in a protest organised by Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH). Under new rules, schools could reject students who don’t fit with their religious beliefs (Picture: Richard Milnes/REX/Shutterstock)

It would also affect teachers.

However, the review said businesses would not be allowed to refuse customers on a religious basis and that registrars would have to conduct same-sex marriages.

In a statement on Wednesday morning, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: ‘Our government will consider the details and release our response after it has gone through a proper cabinet process.

‘We will protect religious freedom, and get the balance right.

‘Each proposal will be considered carefully and respectfully before any final decisions are taken.’

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