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Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli, left, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, and Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus (ACBC, Facebook)

Catholic bishops say the Australian Law Reform Commission’s report on religious educational institutions and anti-discrimination laws released yesterday is unhelpful and falls far short of meeting the Government’s election promises. Source: ACBC/SMH.

The nation’s law reform commission has found religious schools should lose their unfettered right to dismiss teachers and expel students over questions of sexuality or gender identity, in a report tabled by Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus in Parliament.

The commission, which Mr Dreyfus asked last year to provide independent advice on the issue, has recommended scrapping the controversial exemption in section 38 of the Sex Discrimination Act that allows religious schools to discriminate against LGBTQ students and staff – the issue that divided Coalition MPs in the 2022 debate.

But the report was swiftly denounced by religious schools and major churches due to concern they would lose their ability to build communities based on faith, making it clear they would not accept any move by Labor to put the new proposals into force.

The reaction confirms the impasse over the twin proposals to pass a new Religious Discrimination Act and to amend the existing Sex Discrimination Act in a way that could guarantee freedom for people of faith while narrowing the grounds for schools to discriminate against teachers or students.

With no compromise in sight, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is insisting he will proceed with the changes only if Opposition Leader Peter Dutton offers bipartisan support so that both major parties back the changes.

Melbourne Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli, speaking on behalf of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, said parents choose to send their children to Catholic schools to be educated in an environment that upholds and exemplifies a Catholic ethos.

“Catholic schools want to be free to be authentically Catholic in their daily activities,” he said.

“Catholic schools exist to be witnesses of a Catholic mission and ethos by all staff supporting, teaching, and exemplifying a Catholic approach to life.

“Catholic schools want the capacity to employ and manage staff who support the schools’ Catholic mission and ethos.

“The Government and the Opposition should reject the report and work with faith communities towards drafting better laws.”


Fury as Albanese told to scrap religious schools rule (By David Crowe, SMH)


Religious discrimination: Anthony Albanese’s draft laws reflect the ALRC’s recommendation to remove section 38 of the Sex Discrimination Act (The Australian)

Govt tables advice on religious discrimination reforms (Canberra Times)

Call for government to scrap controversial religious schools rule (9News)

Government hears back on religious schools review, but its own plans are still unclear (ABC News)