Vindictive Solution To Imaginary Problem

by Robert Couse-Baker

Someone has finally lost patience with our Pentecostal Pastor Prime Minister’s dithering and leaked the results of the Ruddock Review of Religious Freedom

It recommends that federal discrimination laws be amended to allow religious schools to reject students and sack teachers on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity, pitting the Federal Government against stares that want to prohibit such discrimination. Tasmania has prohibited discrimination against LGBTI people by religious schools for 20 years without any ‘religious’ consequences.

Rational Responses 

The Rationalist Society noted that the discriminatory proposals targeting LGBTI children and teachers are about the only ‘win’ the report hands the Christaliban right.

“The report:

dismisses the notion religious freedom in Australia is in “imminent peril”

does not accept businesses should be allowed to refuse services on religious grounds

says civil celebrants should not be entitled to refuse to conduct same-sex wedding ceremonies if they became celebrants after it was was legalised

does not recommend a dedicated Religious Freedom Act (though it does recommend the Racial Discrimination Act be amended or a new Religious Discrimination Act  be created)

recommends blasphemy laws should be abolished.

The Rationalists also point out that one of the Child Sex Abuse Commissioners is calling for scrapping the exemptions that allow half of church charities, including the Catholic and Anglican church networks, to avoid financial reporting to the charities watchdog, the ACNC.

The Atheist Foundation dismisses the discriminatory recommendation:

[we] will always oppose legislation that makes it lawful for people to impose their own personal beliefs onto the lives of others; particularly young and vulnerable children… Sex and sexuality have nothing to do with a good education and nothing to do with being a good person.

LGBTI Response

LGBTI campaigners just.equal say we need the senate to oppose any attempt to legislate this abhorrent plan, and launched a petition .

The Ruddock Inquiry has recommended allowing religious schools to discriminate against Australian teachers and students according to their sexuality or gender identity.

We want less discrimination, not more.

We want schools to be safe places for all students and teachers, not breeding grounds for prejudice.

All schools receiving public funding should abide by the same principles of fairness and anti-discrimination as the rest of society.

A recent YouGov poll found 4 out of 5 Australians oppose laws that allow government-funded faith-based schools to expel students or sack teachers because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

In last year’s postal survey a majority of Australians voted for equality for their fellow LGBTI Australians.

Please heed that vote by legislating for less discrimination, not more.

Veteran activist and just.equal spokesperson, Rodney Croome, said,

The only reason I can see for the proposed federal law is to entrench fear, prejudice and hate. This looks and feels like a vindictive attempt to punish LGBTI people for achieving marriage equality.”

“The Ruddock Inquiry recommendations are are direct and shameful assault on the dignity and equality of LGBTI people and we will oppose their implementation tooth and nail.”

“Schools should be places of learning, not breeding grounds of prejudice. Any school that receives public money should abide by the same rules as the rest of society, including the same rules about fair-treatment and discrimination.”

“We will lobby Liberal moderates, Labor and the Senate cross-bench to oppose any attempt to legislate this abhorrent and retrograde recommendation.”

“We call on all LGBTI, human rights and social justice organisations to join us.”


The stirrer thinks that it is fine if religious schools, colleges and universities wish to discriminate against certain pupils, teachers and parents, so long as they do not expect any public support for doing so. Any school or other educational establishment wishing to avail itself of this ‘religious freedom’ should be funded wholly and solely by those who wish to use it. Ordinary decent Australians should not be forced to subsidise indoctrination and prejudice with our taxes.

Furthermore, all religious bodies, businesses and institutions should be treated fairly and equally, and no longer receive preferential treatment for tax purposes, paying their way like any other businesses.


About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)