Calls To Strip Religious Schools Of Government Funding

Religious schools should be stripped of government funding if they continue to 'discriminate' against LGBTI students and teachers, say a number of politicians and commentators from across the ideological divide.

It started with crossbencher Derryn Hinch, who announced on Wednesday night that he would move a notice of motion in the Senate calling for any private school that discriminates against gay teachers or students to be stripped of all government funds and charity status.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale announced on Thursday that he would introduce a bill to outlaw discrimination against LGBTI students and teachers in religious schools.

"We need to abolish discrimination, not expand it or entrench it," he told Sky News.

The bill would overturn state-based laws that currently allow for discrimination in some states.

"The community made its position very loud and clear only a few months ago when it supported marriage equality," he said.

"We are in the 21st century, we're not in the 1950s.  You cannot discriminate on the basis of someone's sexuality or gender identity, and simply being a religious school does not give you a get out of jail card."

Even conservative commentator Andrew Bolt has called for funding to be cut, writing in the Herald Sun that "we can't choose our gender, gayness or colour of our skin, which is just one reason why such things shouldn't count in judging someone's moral worth."

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said he didn't want to make this issue "a political football".

"Frankly, I am shocked that the current Prime Minister hasn't ruled out right now already extending new laws allowing the discrimination against children who are gay," he told media on Thursday.

"Why are we having a debate which says that the human dignity of children could be further subject to exemptions against discrimination?"

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that "the law is the law" when it came to discrimination in schools, and that his government had not yet made any decisions.

Meanwhile, the Australian Christian Lobby's Lyle Shelton has suggested that schools should reserve the right to expel students, not for their sexual orientation, but their "behaviour".

"A school should be allowed to ensure that they can protect their ethos. If individuals are acting in a way that’s not in accordance with the well-known ethos of that school, those schools should be able to do what they need to do to preserve that," he told Fairfax.

When asked if this mean students could be expelled for having sex with a person of the same gender, he confirmed that it did.

"Yes," he said. "Absolutely. It’s not up to the government to tell people what their religious beliefs should or shouldn’t be."

Contact the author: abrucesmith@networkten.com.au

Photo: ABC / AAP / Sky News