Ruddock says discrimination law should be limited

Philip Ruddock (ABC News/Marco Catalano)

A review into religious protections in Australia has recommended making it more difficult for schools to turn away gay students, according to the report’s author, Philip Ruddock. Source: ABC News.

Mr Ruddock, a former Liberal MP, said the report, which is yet to be made public, suggests narrowing the scope of existing sex discrimination laws.

“We weren’t suggesting that the law should be expanded,” he told the ABC’s RN Drive program.

“We were simply saying it should be contracted to ensure that that information was clear and unambiguous in relation to those who were seeking to enrol children.”

Reports yesterday suggested the report recommended religious schools be given the right to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or relationship status.

It has since emerged that those laws already exist in varying forms in some states.

Mr Ruddock said his review recommended making the laws consistent across the country and forcing schools that do discriminate to be upfront about it by publicly stating their rules and beliefs.

“There may be a small number of schools who see that as a significant issue for religious reasons,” he said.

“Provided they make it clear, and abundantly clear, that they are the rules under which they’re operating, that should be the basis upon which it occurs.”

Meanwhile, the Catholic school sector says it welcomes staff and students from all backgrounds and has not sought concessions to discriminate against students or teachers based on their sexuality, gender identity or relationship status, Fairfax Media reports.

The president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Mark Coleridge, said all people should be considered equally for employment or enrolment.

“Once employed or enrolled, people within a Catholic school community are expected to adhere to the school’s mission and values.”

Archbishop Coleridge, who made a submission to the review on behalf of the Church, said “we have not sought concessions to discriminate against students or teachers based on their sexuality, gender identity or relationship status”.

“Catholic schools welcome staff and students from all backgrounds who are willing to accept the declared mission and values of the school community,” he said.

FULL STORY

Philip Ruddock plays down religious freedoms report recommendations, says discrimination law should be ‘contracted’ (ABC News

Catholic schools say they don't discriminate on sexuality (Brisbane Times

RELATED COVERAGE

Religious review focus on restricting schools to reject gay students, teachers (The Australian)

Scott Morrison urged to draft new laws to ban religious discrimination (The Age

Coalition to consider religious discrimination act (The Australian

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