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There has been a lot of talk about the Bill and a lot of misinformation floating around about it. So, I’m writing this to clarify things. I’ll include multiple sources, so if you don’t believe me, feel free to check the links.

The current government has an agenda to allow discrimination against queer people (among many others) under the guise of ‘religious freedom’ and ‘protecting’ religious people. What they actually support is abhorrent and would include things like letting religious schools expel queer students and fire queer teachers, and just generally letting religious institutions (such as housing services, employment programs, and more…) discriminate against queer people.


This is a good look at the myriad other ways people would be discriminated against if the Coalition had their way, written by Janet Rice:


In anticipation for the government putting their horrible plans up to a vote, the Labor Party had a caucus meeting. In that meeting, Labor decided that they would propose amendments to the Religious Discrimination Bill, and that if their amendments failed to pass in the House of Representatives that they would vote for it anyway. Several Labor MPs moved that Labor oppose the bill if they couldn’t get their amendment through, but those Labor MPs ‘lost on the voices’ and so Labor’s decision was made.

The above (and some info below) is evidenced here:
Lower house sits late to continue religious discrimination bill debate – as it happened

On the night of the debate, there were basically two relevant bills. The Religious Discrimination Bill and the Human Rights Legislation Amendment. Labor put up several amendments to the Religious Discrimination Bill. These would have: protected students, made it so the ‘statement of belief’ clause wouldn’t override already existing state laws, prevented the discrimination of those in aged care services, and banned religious vilification.

All of Labor’s amendments to the bill failed, as can be seen in the following three links to the parliament website:

Division Number 804
Division Number 805
Division Number 806


Following the failure of these amendments, the bill itself was put up to be voted on. Mr Fletcher (Liberal) moved that the bill be read a third time, a motion that would pass the bill in the House of Representatives and send it to the Senate.

The only MPs who opposed the bill were: Adam Bandt (Greens), Rebekha Sharkie (Centre Alliance), Bridget Archer (Liberal) and the three independents: Helen Haines, Zali Stegall, and Andrew Wilkie.

The Coalition, Labor, Bob Katter, and Craig Kelly supported the bill, with all that it entailed.

There were no Labor MPs who voted against it. Not Ged Kearney (my MP, member for Cooper). Not Peter Khalil (Member for Wills). Not Josh Burns (Member for Macnamara). Regardless of what they said in speeches, they refused to back it up by voting against the bill.

After the Religious Discrimination Bill had passed, the Human Rights Legislation Amendment Bill was up. This bill was to amend various discrimination acts Australia had passed over the years. An amendment to this bill, to protect students (and only students) from discrimination, was able to pass with the support of the Labor Party, 5 Liberal MPs, the 3 independents, Adam Bandt (Greens) and Rebekha Sharkie (Centre Alliance).


Division Number 811

Australian House of Representatives@AboutTheHouse

The Coalition was unable to handle this (showing their true intention…) and decided to shelve the whole thing.

Following that, many proclaimed this as a victory for Labor. That they stood up for queer rights. This doesn’t match up for the following reason.

There is nothing in parliamentary process that prevents Labor from putting forward amendments, and then voting against the bill. That is to say, despite their amendments to the Religious Discrimination Bill failing, they could have voted against the bill. Rebekha Sharkie, Adam Bandt, and others did exactly that. As can be seen in the voting records listed above.

Furthermore, despite the bill being shelved, Labor has announced that they will introduce their own religious discrimination legislation, as seen here:

– Statement on Religious Discrimination Legislation

Albanese claims there that Labor will protect students and gives a somewhat wishy-washy sentence on the topic of teachers. But what about other religious institutions in Australia, such as the aforementioned housing services and employment programs? What about religious op shops? Should they be able to discriminate in the hiring of their staff? Not only did Labor’s amendments not deal with these, Kristina Keneally made something very clear through omission recently on Insiders, as seen here:



She was asked a clear question on whether Labor, if they win the election, will give religious schools the ability to turn away queer teachers and students. Keneally was able to state, clearly, that they will protect queer students. But with teachers and other staff?

She refused to say. Even when asked directly if religious schools should be able to hire and fire teachers on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, she instead talked about the ‘complexities’ of the situation. Here is a direct quote from the above video:

“Well, Labor also supports the right of religious schools, faith-based schools, to be able to hire staff, whether its teachers or other staff, that support the mission and the values of the school.”

Keneally is clearly trying to frame it in a positive light, but it should be apparent what she’s really saying here. If you want, just pretend it was Scott Morrison saying it about the Liberals.

Labor doesn’t support queer teachers. They don’t seem to support any queer people who work for or have to interact with religious institutions. Except for students.

But here’s the thing. Young queer people see the world around them. They see queer people suffering from discrimination and this has an impact on them. And queer kids will (lest tragedy strike, as it sadly so often does…) become queer adults. They’re not truly safe unless their future is safe too.

I’ve attached an image showing Labor’s voting record on the Religious Discrimination Bill. Not for any partisan reason. I would be happy with Labor (and the Coalition! though that’s a stretch) changing their stance. But they won’t unless they get push-back from it.


Larger view

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