Religious Discrimination Bill Inquiry Should Not Consider Other Exceptions, President Says | australian politics

The investigation into the religious discrimination bill should not take into account exemptions that allow schools to discriminate against teachers and students based on their sexuality, President Anne Webster said.

The national MP said the investigation is “specifically about religious discrimination” and that discrimination on other grounds should be dealt with separately, although stakeholders are using the survey to raise concerns about teachers and students. LGBT.

The comments, made to Guardian Australia on Monday, refute an attempt by moderate Liberal and Labor MPs to use the inquiry to consider religious exemptions from the sex discrimination law.

Scott Morrison and Michaelia Cash have referred those exemptions to the Australian Law Reform Commission and refuse to consider amendments alongside the religious discrimination bill, though Morrison told reporters on Thursday he opposed schools firing homosexual teachers or expelling homosexual students.

Equality advocates have warned that educational institutions’ positive right to discriminate on the basis of religious ethics contained in the bill will exacerbate existing exemptions that allow them to discriminate against staff and students.

In the last sitting week of the year, it is still unclear whether the bill will be put to a vote in the lower house. Liberal MP Warren Entsch has warned he will vote against until an inquiry is released, and Labor’s position is still unclear.

On Friday, Morrison and Cash offered to neutralize calls for a joint select committee to review the bill by instead sending it to the Joint Human Rights Committee for report by February 4.

Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg told the Guardian the investigation would show that “we can solve the problem all at once” by dealing with religious exemptions alongside the bill.

Joint Human Rights Committee Chairperson Member of Parliament Anne Webster said: “I’m sure people will raise this issue, but we will not address this issue until after the religious discrimination bill. “.

“Once we have completed our processes, the others [discrimination acts] can be watched, ”she said.

“What the Prime Minister and the Attorney General said is correct – the religious discrimination bill is a shield, not a weapon.

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“My advice is that the bill should be considered on its merits: neither the Gender Discrimination Act nor the Disability Discrimination Act, the inquiry specifically addresses religious discrimination.”

“I’m sure it will be a challenge to keep the topic [religious discrimination] the object [of the inquiry]. “

Webster said religious exemptions from other discrimination laws and their use could be considered in more appropriate forums, including court cases regarding allegations of discrimination.

The comments set up a deal with Labor, which agrees with the moderate Liberals that the inquiry should look at the two issues together and is still negotiating behind closed doors for a better forum to investigate the draft. law, as a mixed select committee.

Deputy Chairman Labor MP Graham Perrett told Guardian Australia “of course” that the issue of discrimination against gay teachers and students should be investigated by the inquiry. “He should take into account any implications that might arise from Mr. Morrison’s legislation.”

At the start of the last sitting week of the year, it is still unclear whether the bill on religious discrimination will be passed in the lower house.

Although some have interpreted the reference to the joint human rights committee as an indication that MPs should not vote on it until the February report date, the government could still push for it to go through the lower house. with the support of Labor.

Equality Australia chief executive Anna Brown told reporters in Canberra it would be an act of “bad faith” on the part of the government to call for a vote before the commission reports and called on parties to allow proper consideration of the bill by opposing such a decision. .

Liberal MP Warren Entsch told The Australian on Sunday that he would not vote for the bill until the inquiry report.

“You have to look at it closely. We’ve only had a very short opportunity to review him and I want him to go through the process, ”Entsch reportedly told The Australian.

“When you introduce a bill and try to get it through five minutes before midnight and you say ‘everything is fine, believe me’, I’ve been around long enough to know it’s a recipe for everyone. kinds of problems. “

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