• Christian schools under threat
  • Parents’ rights in the bin
  • Professor charts a way through the mess

Family First is committed to the right of parents to educate their children in their faith, in accordance with international law (not everything the UN has done is bad).

We suspect most mainstream Australians would not find this idea controversial.

But too many of our political elites think parents and their wishes for their children should go to the back of the ideological bus.

This is especially true when it comes to the LGBTIQA+ political movement’s radical sexual and gender fluid dogmas, which it is trying to force on everyone.

Political elites doing the bidding of this movement think they know better than mums and dads.

They don’t believe in the role of the family, the truth about gender or indeed that mothers and fathers are even necessary.

As we reported before Easter, the Albanese Government launched the biggest attack on freedom of religion and parents’ rights in Australia’s history.

The stakes have never been higher. (You can watch my interview with Mark Spencer of Christian Schools Australia here).

Attorney General Mark Dreyfus tabled in Parliament a report he commissioned from the Australian Law Reform Commission which would destroy Christian, Muslim and other religious schools in Australia by forcing them to hire people who disagreed with their mission.

If legislated, the Dreyfus-commissioned ALRC report would also trash parents’ rights.

Thankfully there was a swift backlash from religious leaders representing several faiths. This quick action seems to have pushed the Prime Minister into a backdown.

It is understood the PM has now told faith groups he will not allow religious freedom to go backwards, which means things are currently at a stalemate.

Legislation based on the ALRC recommendation to strip schools of the right to hire staff who share parents’ religious values seems to be on ice, for now.

Shadow Attorney General Michaelia Cash is standing strong in support of Christian and religious schools, and kudos to the Coalition for this.

However, last time the issue came before the Parliament in 2022, five Liberals from its powerful leftist (“moderates” is a wrong descriptor) faction broke ranks and torpedoed legislation that would have provided some protection to Christian schools.

It remains to be seen whether Peter Dutton can hold his team together, given that so many Liberals and Nationals have sided with LGBTIQA+ activists in recent years.

In the meantime, well known legal academic, Professor Patrick Parkinson, has written for the ABC detailing a sensible way to end the war on freedom of religion.

His prescription would require the LGBTIQA+ political movement and its Liberal and Labor friends to agree to the principle of freedom of association and allow both sides to “live and let live”.

Parkinson writes:

After years of promises to protect religious freedom made by both sides of federal politics, last month Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has asked the Coalition to work with the government to pass a Religious Discrimination Bill and remove exemptions currently contained in the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 for faith-based schools. Failing agreement, the Prime Minister said he is open to getting the legislation through the Senate with support of the Greens — but at the risk of deepening the divisions between many people of faith and the left side of politics.

There are, in fact, solid arguments in favour of a bipartisan deal. This is not just about appeasing the churches. If the issues are properly understood, some LGBTIQ+ organisations and secular women’s groups ought to be strongly in support of the freedom of religious organisations to maintain their identity and ethos, for their freedoms also are under threat. Not only have changes made to the Sex Discrimination Act in 2013 under the last Labor government led to arguments over exemptions for faith-based schools and other religious bodies, they have also precipitated sharp divisions among LGBTIQ+ communities and women’s organisations, as have similar changes made to the law at state and territory level.

It is worth taking the time to read the entire article because it sums up what is at stake in a debate that has been raging since before same-sex marriage and has only escalated since.

It’s also worth noting that Parkinson identifies draconian laws already passed in Victoria and proposed to be passed in Queensland which need a Commonwealth override to preserve basic freedoms.

Here’s what he says about the Victoria Equal Opportunities Act, which came into force in 2021:

The Victorian government has been involved in what appears to many to be a war on religious faith. The Equal Opportunity (Religious Exceptions) Amendment Act 2021 removed most religious exemptions that had previously protected the right of faith-based organisations to maintain their identity and ethos. Employment decisions in faith-based schools are now subject to oversight by the courts if the matter is litigated, which must rule on whether being an adherent to the faith is an inherent requirement of the position and whether a restriction related to religious belief is “reasonable and proportionate”.
The changes in Victoria removed most of the religious freedoms of faith-based organisations other than the right to meet for public worship. The change to the law means, for example, that a faith-based school could not dismiss a middle-aged teacher who was known to be having sex, consensually, with vulnerable young women in violation of the moral code of the school and most of its parents. This is because “lawful sexual conduct” is a protected attribute in the legislation.

The ALRC’s recommendations, if legislated, would introduce similar restrictions at federal level.

But the Steven Miles Labor Government in Queensland proposes to go even further than Victoria and the Albanese government in its quest to mollify the LGBTIQA+ political movement.

Parkinson writes:

In a consultation draft of its Anti-Discrimination Bill, it (the Queensland government) proposes that one of the grounds on which discrimination should be prohibited is “sex work activity”. That is defined in such a way as to include actors in pornographic films as well as those who sell sexual access to their bodies for money. The effect of the proposed legislation is that a Catholic school could not dismiss a member of staff found to have his or her own pornographic website where voyeurs can pay to see images — even if those images had been circulating among the student body, causing significant difficulties for the school.

Sadly, there has been very little if any pushback from the LNP in Queensland to these alarming proposals.

As Professor Parkinson proposes, there is a way to reasonably accommodate differing views but it will take tolerance by the LGBTIQA+ activists who have been attacking Christian schools and it will take political advocacy.

Family First is working to raise a political movement that can field pro-freedom candidates who will fight with courage and clarity in public.

For too long, the debate about freedom of religion and parents’ rights has been one-sided with little or no political cover from the centre right of politics.

Family First’s mission is to change that so freedom can be restored and protected.

ACTION: Join the fight for religious freedom and parents’ rights, become a member of the Family First party today.