Listen: Mark Spencer of Christian Schools Australia in conversation with Stephen O’Doherty
A constant refrain of the ‘yes’ case was that the marriage debate had nothing to do with issues of religious freedom – it was narrowly aimed at marriage alone.
Concerns that schools, charities and others could be affected were dismissed and calls for greater protection to be made explicit in the Bill rejected.
The narrow protections in the Bill, restricted to issues of the marriage ceremony itself, were deemed sufficient and the Same Sex marriage legislation went through both Houses of Parliament without amendment.
Discrimination law in each state currently provides a limited exemption to faith-based schools allowing them to deliberately employ staff whose professed and lived-out faith matches that the the school.
It is a perfectly reasonable arrangement respects the international human right of parents to choose a faith-based education for their child.
However even as the SSM legislation was making its way through the Parliament LGBTI advocates were already using it as a reason to take away those exemptions, and even to take funding from faith-based schools.
Exactly as was foreshadowed during the SSM debate there are also calls for changes to curriculum in all schools
The issue came to light in Western Australia where a Christian school chose to discontinue engaging a gay relief teacher.
On Open House we discussed the issue with Mark Spencer, Executive Officer (Policy) at Christian Schools Australia.