Morrison eyes law to protect religion as Greens call for exemption rollback

Philip Ruddock’s government-commissioned review of religious freedoms in Australia will urge the Morrison government to enshrine the right of religious schools

Row over Australia plan to let faith schools reject gay students

Today's events have indicated that more members of the media may have accessed report than members of the cabinet, and the government has been hit by a barrage of calls for the report to be released.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said religious schools are already legally allowed to deny students a place based on their sexual orientation, following criticism of a leaked report that proposes allowing schools to bar them.

Cabinet is yet to consider the review led by former Liberal minister Philip Ruddock and handed to the government in May.

On Thursday the Greens sought to capitalise on anger about the Ruddock review proposals by promising to push to repeal existing exemptions that allow religious schools to discriminate against staff and students.

"There is a wide variety of religious schools in Australia and ... to some school communities, cultivating an environment and ethos which conforms to their religious beliefs is of paramount importance", the report, parts of which were obtained by Fairfax, reads.

"No religious school should be able to get away with discrimination, let alone with public funding".

Liberal candidate for Wentworth Dave Sharma, appearing alongside the treasurer in Sydney on Wednesday, said he was personally opposed to any new laws which discriminated on the basis of gender or sexual orientation.

'To the extent that this can be done in the context of appropriate safeguards for the rights and mental health of the child, the panel accepts their right to select, or preference, students who uphold the religious convictions of that school community'.

Morrison was commenting on the contents of the leaked report on religious freedom, reigniting debate about what constituted unlawful discrimination against gay people just months after Australia's Parliament voted to legalize same-sex marriage.

The existing federal law does say it is not "unlawful" to discriminate against someone for their sexuality, gender identity or pregnancy "in connection with the provision of education". "The Government should be protecting kids in schools, not allowing them to be turned away for be gay or trans".

The Coalition set up the review after last year's same-sex marriage debate, in what was seen as a bid to placate opponents who were concerned it would restrict the ability of individuals to practice their religions.

"The fact is every children is entitled to human dignity".

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said he can't believe the prime minister hasn't ruled out the "silly" idea completely.

The Yes (to same-sex marriage) Campaign said redefining marriage would have "no consequences" for other peoples' beliefs.

Mr Ruddock tells Ben it's not about making it easier for schools to discriminate, but the need for them to be upfront about their policy.

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