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Faith-based schools could be given greater rights to refuse gay students, teachers: report

3aw mornings debate

A review into religious freedoms reportedly recommends faith-based schools be given greater rights to refuse gay teachers and students.

The Age newspaper, which has seen a copy of the review yet to be released publicly, reports the recommendations include changes to the Sex Discrimination Act, allowing religious schools to preference students and teachers with the same beliefs.

Former attorney general Philip Ruddock has been appointed to lead the review, which was ordered after the same-sex marriage vote.

Why would you discriminate against anybody, particularly on sexuality? Would there be any school that cared? I would have thought a basic of a religious organisation is acceptance – Neil Mitchell

Simon Breheny, director of policy at the Institute of Public Affairs, said it wasn’t a question of sexuality.

“I think that freedom of association should extend to schools,” he said.

“Just as you have the right as a parent to choose your school, I think schools also have the right to choose their students.”

He said he couldn’t imagine a faith-based school turning away a student based on their sexuality, and he wasn’t sure how it could be applied in a school setting.

On the opposing side of the argument, Rodney Croome, a spokesperon for Just Equal, described it as non-sensical and un-Australian.

“If you allow those church schools to discriminate, you are eliminating that choice and you are saying effectively they are not governed by the same rules as the rest of us,” he said.

“The rest of us have to abide by anti-discrimination laws.”

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3aw mornings debate