How Labor pip Liberals to pass religious discrimination bill       

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How Labor pip Liberals to pass religious discrimination bill       

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 How Labor pip Liberals to pass religious discrimination bill       
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Highlights 

  • The contentious religious discrimination bill was passed by the lower house on
  • Several Liberal MPs crossed the floor against the government to pass the bill.
  • The new version of the bill is moved to the Senate now.

After more than 10 hours of debate the whole night, the federal government's contentious religious discrimination bill sailed through the House of Representatives on Thursday (10 February 2022). Just before 5 am, a human rights amendment bill was enacted, prohibiting religious schools from discriminating against pupils based on gender and sexuality.

Liberal MPs Bridget Archer, Trent Zimmerman, Katie Allen, Fiona Martin, and Dave Sharma crossed the floor against the government, assisting Labor and the crossbench in amending the Sex Discrimination Act to include rights for LGBTQ+ students.

What is the debate all about?

The whole debate started when Australia made same-sex marriages lawful in 2017. A year after, when Scott Morrison became the prime minister of Australia in 2018, he made two promises that he would write new legislation to protect people from religious discrimination, and he would remove a loophole in the discrimination law that permitted schools to exclude LGBT staff and pupils on religious grounds.

Since then, the religious discrimination measure has gone through multiple modifications.

However, as it prepared to present it this week, the government stated that the pledge to prohibit school discrimination against staff and students would only cover persons based on sexuality, not gender identity.

The House of Representatives debated the bill overnight to see if it should be changed. Just before 5 am, the bill was put to the vote, and some Liberals kept their word and crossed the floor to support trans protections, giving the modifications the votes they needed to pass.

The bill has already passed the House, and the govt has lost the vote on the modifications, so the new version is on its way to the Senate, where it will face the final hurdle.

Also Read: What will religious discrimination bill mean for Australians?

What are the changes in transgender protections?

Schools were already exempted from the Sex Discrimination Act, which permitted them to discriminate "in good faith" to reject workers based on sexual orientation, gender identity, relationship status, and pregnancy.

The administration proposed removing "sexual orientation" from the list of exempted characteristics on which a school could discriminate — but not anything else.

The agreed-upon modification was to eliminate student exemptions for sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Labor successfully expanded rights for transgender children in schools, but it was unsuccessful in gaining approval for planned revisions to the religious discrimination measure.

What's next?

The bill is under the Senate now, and it decided not to discuss the bill further. Because the election is in March and the government is now more focused on the budget to prepare for the election, the Senate may not assemble until March. Therefore, the future of the bill is uncertain.

 

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