Immediately after the overwhelming vote in favour of same-sex marriage, the forces of the Conservative Christian lobby began marshalling their forces again. Then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull agreed to set up a review of religious freedom in Australia because the Christian lobby was afraid that same-sex marriage would affect religious freedoms, in particular the right of Christian schools to discriminate against LGBTI teachers and students.
Malcolm Turnbull was effectively bullied into setting up the review by the Christian Conservatives on the right of his party.
The review headed by former Attorney General Philip Ruddock and which included Australian Human Rights Commission, Rosalind Croucher, Annabelle Bennett, a former Judge of the Federal Court of Australia. Father Frank Brennan, Jesuit priest, human rights lawyer and academic and academic Nicholas Aroney, Professor of Constitutional Law at The University of Queensland who has argued that recognising religious freedom should include acceptance of a limited form of sharia law, met in secret.
Philip Ruddock says the religious freedom review is holding ‘informal dialogues’ that it has elected not to record or reproduce. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP
The review has reported back but its findings are being kept secret by the Morrison government.
Some of it has been leaked including a recommendation that
The Commonwealth should amend the Sex Discrimination Act to provide that religious schools may discriminate in relation to students on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or relationship status.
There are some minor provisos but they are basically immaterial to the issue that this is a massive assault on the rights of the LGBTI community. Worse still, it aims at schoolchildren.
The Age reports: “Prime Minister Scott Morrison has backed the right of religious schools to discriminate against gay students in a political row over a confidential government report into religious freedom.”
How has our government been captured by the religious right who appear to be to be completely out of step with the concerns have ordinary Australians?
With a vote on same-sex marriage, Australians formally for a more tolerant society. The Morrison government and its fellow travellers seem hellbent on these hard won freedoms.