MEMBER for Mallee Andrew Broad says the federal government is planning to release a report into religious freedoms in schools.
It comes after recent backlash against a federal law that allows religious schools to discriminate on the grounds of a student or teacher’s sexuality.
“The Australian government decided it would do an inquiry into maintaining freedoms and included in that is religious freedoms. We will be handing down a report soon with our government response to that,” Mr Broad said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his government did not support the expulsion of students from religious non-state schools on the basis of their sexuality.
"I also know that this view is widely shared by religious schools and communities across the country. 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,” he said in a statement.
Mr Broad said it was important that all freedoms were upheld.
“There are two freedoms that are important. The first is that a person should be able to go to work and not be judged on their race, religion or sexuality, but be judged on the way they act in the workplace,” he said.
“The other freedom is that parents should be able to raise their own children in the way they see fit.”
Mr Broad said parents had the choice to send their children to schools that upheld their own values.
“I have the capacity as a member of parliament to sack someone who is a raving Communist who has Communist sympathies and doesn’t the values that I want to uphold in my workplace,” he said.
“Just as a Christian school can also, currently under law, not employ someone if they are not acting within the values that the school upholds based on their workplace performance.
“But say for example they were really wanting to push a same-sex agenda within their school and it was a Lutheran school, the school does have the right to be able to dismiss them.
“The people who choose to send their children to that school have the right to decide if that school upholds the values that they want for their children’s education. That exists under current law now.”
Mr Broad said his comments in an interview with Sky News had been taken out of context by Mildura paper The Sunraysia Daily.
“(The paper) wanted to make a great headline, which on face value makes it look like what I said was derogatory. But if you actually read what I said, it wasn’t,” he said.
“The rest of the transcript form the interview points out why schools should never discriminate against students particularly based on sexuality.
“When we treat each other with respect and understand that we can all live our lives differently, and that includes a parent’s right to choose where they educate and how they raise their children, then we actually have a free society.
“If we go down a pathway where the government is going to put restrictions on a parent’s choice, then we are actually robbing people of freedom.”
Wimmera Pride Project co-founder Maddi Ostapiw said the law was “ridiculous”.
“I think we’re very lucky in this state that over the last few years we haven’t had to experience a case when an LGBTI teacher or student was discriminated against; the law might be there, but faculties haven’t necessarily followed that through,” she said.
“So to have that come up again in national debate and to know that we have people in politics who are willing to get rid of that law and make it safe for LGBTI students is amazing. It’s just very disappointing that we have a federal member who is once again not aligned with his electorate with his beliefs.
“I don’t think any common person would think that it’s okay to kick a kid out of their education just because they’re gay or trans.”
Related: Support for Wimmera LGBTI youth
Ms Ostapiw said Mr Broad needed to better represent the views of his electorate.
“I would say to him that’s it’s well and good to have religious freedom, but when religious freedoms then affects another person that’s when it becomes an issue,” he said.
“If parents are that concerned that their child is going to have to interact with a gay or trans fellow student or teacher, then they’re going to have difficulty getting through the world because LGBTI people make up 10 per cent of the population.
“It’s not fair that we’re trying to keep people out of these spaces of education; the key to advancing our population is educating. To tell a kid that they’re not allowed to have the same rights because somebody’s religion says so, that’s just not okay.”