Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Aussie to stop schools expelling gay students



Aussie to stop schools expelling gay students

Aussie to stop schools expelling gay students

AUSTRALIA’S conservative government will ban schools from expelling students over their sexuality, after a public outcry over the issue that threatened to sway the result of a crucial by-election.

Laws allowing faith-based schools in some states to discriminate against gay students and teachers were highlighted in a review into religious protections that was leaked in the media last week.

The report – commissioned to placate the right wing of the governing coalition after Australia voted to approve gay marriage last year – called for the policy to be enshrined in federal laws.

The ensuing public outcry, with even Catholic organisations rejecting the prospect of discriminating against gay students, came ahead of an October 20 by-election that could cost the government its wafer-thin parliamentary majority.

The by-election – triggered when former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull resigned from parliament after being ousted as leader by Scott Morrison – fuelled fears of a voter backlash in the blue-ribbon seat.

Support of gay rights is particularly high in Turnbull’s wealthy Sydney beachside seat of Wentworth, which voted 81 per cent in favour of gay marriage in last year’s national postal poll.

Morrison, an evangelical Christian who opposed gay marriage, initially blamed the furore on “misreporting” and insisted the religious review was about more protections for students against discrimination.

‘End of confusion’

As the debate grew louder, the prime minister finally said Saturday that he would introduce a bill to prevent sexuality-based discrimination, to end “confusion and anxiety for parents and students”.

“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.

The school bill is expected to sail through parliament with the support of the main opposition Labor Party.

The left-wing Greens party said it would also introduce amendments to end discrimination against school teachers based on their sexuality or gender identity.

“It’s 2018, not the 1950s, no matter what Scott Morrison thinks,” Greens leader Richard di Natale tweeted.

While the Wentworth seat is traditionally a Liberal safe haven, there have been fears within the ruling Liberal-National coalition of local anger over Turnbull’s ousting.

There is currently a three-way race for the seat between the Liberals, Labor and an independent candidate.

The coalition has a one-seat majority in the lower house of parliament, and Morrison warned Wentworth voters that if the Liberals lose the seat, it could lead to a hung parliament.

That would create “unnecessary uncertainty in our economy and the stability of our government”, he told reporters on Saturday.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh curfew starts today

    A two-week curfew from 8pm to 5am starts today in Phnom Penh, a day after a sub-decree detailing administrative measures to contain Covid-19 was issued by Prime Minister Hun Sen. “Travelling in Phnom Penh is temporally banned between 8pm and 5am,” said Phnom Penh governor

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Cambodia gears up for muted New Year festival

    The recent curfew and restrictions imposed in the capital and other Covid-19 hotspots were intended to break the chain of transmission, Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said as municipal and provincial authorities issued new directives banning certain activities during the upcoming Khmer New Year

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Covid-19 vaccination now obligatory

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on April 11 issued a sub-decree making Covid-19 vaccination compulsory for individuals unless they have a medical certificate proving they have pre-existing health conditions that prevent them from doing so. «This applies to all members of the armed forces and civil servants

  • Time to Rise by rapper, chapei legend is viral hit with ancient-modern mix

    Kong Nay is known internationally as the master of the chapei dang veng, a traditional Cambodian instrument resembling a long-necked lute or guitar with two nylon strings that he was already playing professionally by the age of 15. Nay is sometimes referred to as the Cambodian