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Prime Minister Scott Morrison to ban sexuality discrimination for faith schools

Religious schools will be stripped of the right to expel students on the basis of their sexuality under significant reforms to be announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison today.

Mr Morrison has asked Attorney-General Christian Porter to prepare amendments to Federal anti-discrimination laws, in a bid to quell “unnecessary confusion and anxiety” over the leaked Ruddock report on religious freedoms.

The legislation to repeal exemptions that currently allow private schools to discriminate against gay students on religious grounds is expected to pass Parliament with Labor’s backing, after Opposition Leader Bill Shorten wrote to the PM last night to offer bipartisan support.

“Our Government does not support expulsion of students from religious non-State schools on the basis of their sexuality,” Mr Morrison said. “I will be taking action to ensure amendments are introduced as soon as practicable to make it clear that no student of a non-State school should be expelled on the basis of their sexuality.”

Under existing law, faith-based schools are able to fire teachers and expel students on the basis of sexuality or gender identity in certain circumstances.

Similar exemptions exist in WA’s Equality Opportunity Act, but The Weekend West understands they would likely be overridden by the amendments proposed by Mr Morrison.

The Government has been sitting on the Ruddock review, which was set up in the wake of last year’s vote on same-sex marriage, since May.

But reports that emerged on Wednesday — less than a fortnight before voters head back to the polls in Malcolm Turnbull’s former inner-Sydney seat of Wentworth — incorrectly suggested that the review called for it to be made easier for faith-based schools to turn away gay students and teachers.

The report rather proposes that the exemptions afforded to religious schools be retained, and restricted to those schools that have a publicly available policy and prioritise the child’s “best interests”.

Mr Morrison’s response goes even further, removing the exemption that relates to students in order to “give all students and parents the certainty they require”.

He believed the Government’s view was “widely shared” by religious schools, the wider community and across Parliament, with the legislation likely to be introduced during the two-week session that begins on Monday.

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