Scott Morrison has vowed to make a big change to the Sex Discrimination Act after a Christian school sent an “inhumane” anti-gay contract to families.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has promised to make a big change to the Religious Discrimination Bill after a Christian school attempted to make parents sign an anti-gay, anti-trans enrolment contract.
On Thursday, Brisbane’s Citipointe Christian College withdrew its enrolment contract which would have allowed the school to expel students based on their gender identity.
The contract also branded homosexuality “sinful, offensive and destructive” and lumped it into the same category as paedophilia and incest.
The controversy has drawn a lot of negative attention to the Religious Discrimination Bill, which the Morrison government is attempting to get through parliament.
Now, in a bid to appease those opposed to the bill, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has vowed to make changes to the Sex Discrimination Act to stop religious schools discriminating against LGBTQI+ students.
Speaking about Citipointe’s enrolment contract on Brisbane Radio B105 on Thursday, Mr Morrison said “I do not support that”.
“My kids go to a Christian school here in Sydney, and I wouldn’t want my school doing that either,” he said.
“The bill that we’re going to be taking through the parliament, we will have an amendment which will deal with that to ensure kids cannot be discriminated against on that basis.
“The law, as it sits, would allow for that.”
Last year, Attorney-General Michaelia Cash reportedly told Christian lobbyists the government supported exemptions for religious schools in the Sex Discrimination Act that allowed them to discriminate based on sexuality and gender identity.
However, moderate Liberals have previously said their support for the Religious Discrimination Bill depended on amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act.
“Religious freedom isn’t just about people who have religion, it’s also about people who don’t,’ Mr Morrison told the radio station.
“You shouldn’t be discriminated against by what your religious faith is or isn’t.
“You should be able to send your kids to a Christian school or Muslim school or a Jewish school, or whatever it is, they should be able to teach, you know, kids in that way.”
The Religious Discrimination Bill has been under intense scrutiny, with two parliamentary legislation and human rights committees preparing to hand down reports on Friday.
The Citipointe Christian College enrolment contract drew widespread outrage, with a petition calling for its recall gaining more than 155,800 signatures in a matter of days.
The document was branded “utterly disgusting” and “inhumane” and prompted multiple parents to pull their children from the school.
In a statement issued by Principal Pastor Brian Mulheran on Thursday, he announced the school was withdrawing the contract and that “families will no longer be asked to agree to that contract for their child to be enrolled in the College”.
While Pastor Mulheran had previously doubled down on the contract — and the school’s right to issue it — in the statement announcing its withdrawal he said the College “deeply regrets that some students feel that they would be discriminated against because of their sexuality or gender identity, and I apologise to them and their families on behalf of the College”.
“As stated previously, the College does not and will not discriminate against any student because of their sexuality or gender identity. It is central to our faith that being gay or transgender in no way diminishes a person’s humanity or dignity in God’s eyes,” he added.
Mr Mulheran also claimed some students had been “vilified in the community” for their religious beliefs or because they attend the school.
He branded this “deeply distressing” and said he hoped by withdrawing the contract that they could “return all of our focus to the Christian education of our students as we begin this new year”.
Earlier in the week, Mr Mulheran had doubled down on the contract, releasing a six minute video to parents in which he said exercise of religious freedom was “not discrimination”.
He also noted that while they have had to deal with individual conduct or behavioural issues, none of these situation has ever led to a student being expelled because they are gay or transgender.
However, the enrolment contract parents had been asked to sign openly stated the school would expel students if they didn’t identify with their birth gender.
The contract stated the school had a right to “exclude a student from the College who no longer adheres to the College’s doctrinal precepts” – which includes the school’s beliefs around a student’s biological sex.
It noted the bible ties gender identity to biological sex and does not make a distinction between gender and biological sex.
“Whilst each student is individually valued and equally encouraged to pursue opportunities in both academic and co-curricular activities, I/we agree that, where distinctions are made between male and female (inclusive of, but not limited to, for example, uniforms, presentation, terminology, use of facilities and amenities, participation in sporting events and accommodation) such distinctions will be applied on the basis of the individual’s biological sex,” the contract stated.
The contract also noted that marriage and sexual intimacy should only be between a biological man and woman and outlined the school’s anti-abortion and anti-euthanasia stance.
Fees for the Kindergarten to Year 12 school range from $8880 to $12,610 a year.