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Row over Australia plan to let faith schools reject gay students

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image captionGay marriage became legal in Australia last year

Australia's prime minister has defended leaked proposals to let religious schools discriminate against gay students.

Scott Morrison said the proposals were already "existing law".

Schools in some states can already reject staff if they are gay. The new proposals would apply nationwide.

They are contained in a report into religious freedom that was commissioned after same-sex marriage was made legal last year.

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Fairfax Media, which obtained a copy of the report, said it proposed that religious schools would be guaranteed the right to turn away gay students and teachers.

Religious schools would also be allowed to discriminate on the basis of gender identity and relationship status.

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"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," Fairfax quoted the report as saying.

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Schools would have to make their policies on gay staff and students public, the proposals reportedly say.

Mr Morrison said the proposals - which have not yet been debated by cabinet - would be considered "carefully and respectfully".

But Shadow Education Minister Tanya Plibersek told ABC it was a "disturbing proposition".

"What kind of adult wants to turn away a child, wants to reject a kid because they are gay?" she said.

Conservative MPs had asked for the report into religious freedom - known as the Ruddock Report - over fears that same-sex marriage would restrict people's ability to practise their religion.

However Fairfax reported that it did not find that religious freedom was under threat in Australia.

It also did not accept that businesses should be allowed to refuse services on religious grounds, warning that this could "encroach on other human rights".

Related Topics

  • Australia
  • Same-sex marriage
  • Faith schools
  • LGBT
  • Scott Morrison