Religious bodies are calling for Anthony Albanese to meet his election commitment and re­ignite a failed push to legislate protections against faith-based discrimination. A national poll commissioned by a coalition of Christian schools, including the Australian Association of Christian Schools, Associated Christian Schools and Christian Schools Australia, found 75 per cent of respondents supported the right of a religious school to employ teachers who supported stated values and beliefs of the schools. The poll, conducted on May 25 and 26 using a national weighted sample of 1502 respondents, also found more than two-thirds believed laws should protect the right to hold and practise religious beliefs. About 62 per cent of younger voters (aged 18-24) supported this right, with the highest support (77 per cent) in the same demographic from those with postgraduate qualifications.

When asked whether faith-based schools should have the right to teach the Australian curriculum according to their values and beliefs, 61 per cent of voters with children agreed, rising to 89 per cent of those actively practising a faith. During his election campaign, the Prime Minister promised to legislate a religious discrimination act within his first term of government but pledged to scrap aspects of the Morrison government’s proposed bill that enabled schools to expel gay and transgender students. Scott Morrison had to shelve his legislation just before the election campaign after five of his party’s MPs crossed the floor to vote with Labor and the crossbench in favour of amendments that sought extra protections for transgender students. Labor has not set a timeline for pursuing the issue this term, but Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said that it remained committed to protecting people from discrimination on the grounds of faith.

“Labor has repeatedly made clear we do support legislation to protect people from discrimination on the basis of their religious beliefs,” Dreyfus said. “Labor has committed to bringing legislation before parliament in our first term to protect people from discrimination on the grounds of faith.” Australian Association of Christian Schools executive officer Vanessa Cheng said the new data should propel Mr Albanese to deliver on his election promise: “We are calling upon Prime Minister Albanese to deliver on the ALP’s election commitment that his government will prioritise preventing discrimination against people of faith and maintain the right of religious schools to preference people of the same faith in the selection of staff. “We hope and pray an Albanese government can succeed in achieving this overdue reform for people of faith where the Morrison government failed.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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