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Lawmaker Tells Emotional Story of Gay Teen Nephew Who Died by Suicide

Stephen Jones in Parliament

Stephen Jones was opposing the religious discrimination bill.

While in various states in the U.S., Republicans are pushing to censor literature and discussions about gender identity and sexual orientation, Australia is considering a religious discrimination bill. The legislation would allow faith-based organizations to discriminate against protected groups.

Amid floor debate of the bill, MP Stephen Jones spoke about his teenage nephew who recently died by suicide.

For me this is not an academic issue," he said of the bill. "Last week my family said farewell to my nephew Ollie. He was just 15 when he took his own life. No mother or father should ever have to endure this sight, no brother should ever have to clean up afterward. He was a beautiful, creative, courageous young man. He was loved and accepted by his parents, by his family, by his friends and community. His mum and dad are in anguish. We all are.

"He was gay," he continued. "He was uncertain about his gender and struggled with his mental health. But now he is gone and we will no longer be able to love him and support him on his journey through life. Clearly the love and acceptance of his family and friends were not enough."

Then legislation is the manifestation of a promise that Prime Minister Scott Morrison made back in 2019, pledging a stand-alone law that would ban religious discrimination. Morrison then introduced the bill last November personally. Advocates say that it would protect people from discrimination based on the basis of their religious beliefs. Critics say these protections would allow the rights of various communities to be trampled in favor of those freedoms. Many critics agree, for example, that the legislation would allow schools run by religious organizations to expel trans students.

Experts have said that the bill would override other antidiscrimination laws. Currently, there is no stand-alone legislation to protect religious beliefs, but it is protected under other laws.

In addition to speaking about his nephew, Jones spoke about his 14-year-old son.

"He designs and makes his own clothes; he's a gifted makeup artist," he said. "He moves seamlessly between the wardrobes of men and women. He wears heels that give me vertigo and has more handbags than his sister. He has more courage than any other boy of his age that I have ever met. He swims against the tide.

"I love and support him unconditionally, and I brag about his talents to anybody who is willing to stop for two minutes and glance at his Instagram page," he continued, to the agreement from those present. "But I worry myself sick every time he leaves the house. I think to myself, You look beautiful, but do you have to go out looking like that? Because I know that the love and protection that he enjoys with his mother and his friends and his family is very different to the reception that he may receive to the outside world.

"Could be the day that we receive the call that something has happened? That he has been attacked for just being who he is."

Jones went on to say that the legislation is about all kids who "swim against the tide." He asked the Parliament what message did they want to send to those kids.

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