Our Plan for Freedom AND Equality

11 May 2022

Over the weekend our political leaders were doing it again, making general statements supporting religious freedom, while other MPs and Senators repeated simplistic assertions regarding voting to protect gay students.

All this meaningless waffle simply reinforces the 'Catch-22' situation engineered by the activists to stop protections for religious we saw outwork in February.

Those who claim to be 'protecting gay students'  acted to pass amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 which mirrored the proposals in the ‘Wong Bill’ proposed in 2018.  The 'Wong Bill' was rejected by Parliament at that time because of the consequences which went far beyond the concerns around [falsely claimed] expulsion of students.   The amendments would have struck at the heart of what can be taught in a faith based school.

Unfortunately, due to the mechanism in which the legislation was introduced, those amendments were inextricably tied to the proposed Religious Discrimination Bill, so approving those amendments was inevitably going to kill the whole package as they were clearly established as going too far.  The adoption of those amendments was never going to be successful and it was simply and only a blocking strategy for the Religious Discrimination Bill.

Of course, along with blocking the Religious Discrimination Bill, these actions also blocked any chance of addressing the concerns raised within the very students the supporters of the amendments claimed to be protecting.  It seems a very unusual way of protecting people, hollow 'virtue signalling' instead of proposing a practical solution.

On behalf of our schools that genuinely care about students, we have consistently supported attempts to fairly address the fears of expulsion held by students since they were first raised in 2018.  These fears were incited for nakedly political purposes and have been shameless stoked in the media and Parliament by activists and their allies consistently over the last four years.  While we know these claims are false, and no evidence has been provided for them, the fears they have created are genuinely felt.  These fears must be addressed, we need to find a solution as simply telling the truth requires people to have 'ears to hear'.

Our Plan for Freedom and Equality provides a clear three step process to:

  • protect people of faith from discrimination,
  • address the fears of expulsion of LGBT students, and
  • provide certainty to faith-based schools.

It provides a clear, detailed, and achievable path for these matters to be resolved before Christmas this year.

A copy of the plan has been circulated to MPs, Senators and key candidates, along with more than 900 contacts across the media, if you miss seeing it covered that tells you something about the reporting of positive stories. You can read our media release here.

The plan calls for the next Parliament to:

  • Pass the Religious Discrimination Bill 2022 as passed by the House of Representatives in February
  • Immediately re-commence the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) Review into exemptions
  • Pass amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act that update the drafting as recommended by the ALRC

The activists who claimed a ‘win’ when the Bill did not proceed in February, and those MPs who claimed to be protecting LGBT students, are the only barrier to a solution being implemented in this timeframe.

You cannot legitimately make claims to be supporting students without coming up with a concrete and realistic plan to address their concerns.  Our plan is clear, detailed, and provides an achievable path for these matters to be resolved, MPs who voted to remove existing protections under the guise of protecting students need to support our plan or provide their alternative plan – not merely make vague claims to be protecting students, or indeed about supporting religious freedom.

As the people of Australia are starting to cast their vote, people of faith and LGBT students in faith-based schools and their families deserve clarity on the plans in the next Parliament of the parties and their candidates.

We have included in the link below to a copy of the plan for schools to circulate to parents and their school communities.

Please encourage your community to read Our Plan for Freedom and Equality and engage with candidates this election - this is the only way we will get a sensible solution that properly balances religious freedom and other rights.

Our Plan for Freedom and Equality is a plan for a solution.  It is simply the right thing to do.

Download Our Plan for Freedom AND Equality

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