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Australian PM: Faith Schools Rejecting Gay Students Is 'Existing Law'


A new report about "religious freedom" may have dire consequences for LGBTQ students and teachers Down Under.


The prime minister of Australia says "existing law" allows religious schools to bar gay students, reports the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Scott Morrison's remarks come in the midst of a government-requested report on so-called "religious freedom." The review was commissioned after marriage equality came to Australia last year, when conservatives in Australia's Parliament feared that legalization of same-sex marriage would infringe on religious rights. The panel conducting the review received around 15,000 submissions from concerned citizens.

A leaked copy of the review shows that there are indeed recommendations to empower faith-based schools to ban gay students and teachers, reports The Sydney Morning Herald. "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," the report stated.

"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."

Tanya Plibersek, Australia's shadow education minister -- the country has a "Shadow Cabinet" populated by members of its opposition Labor Party -- called it a "disturbing proposition" on ABC News Breakfast and said Labor "doesn't expand discrimination opportunities."

"What kind of adult wants to turn away a child, wants to reject a kid because they are gay?" she asked.

However, the report also notes that religious freedom is not in "imminent peril" and cautions against empowering businesses to turn away LGBTQ customers. Such an action would "unnecessarily encroach on other human rights" and "may cause significant harm to vulnerable groups," the report stated.

Morrison -- who is head of Australia's Liberal Party, which despite its name is actually conservative -- promised that the 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," he said. "Each proposal will be considered carefully and respectfully before any final decisions are taken."

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Daniel Reynolds

Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.
Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.