Thorpey teams up with Equality Australia to protect students and staff

30 April, 2024 – Olympic legend Ian Thorpe has joined forces with Equality Australia to campaign for urgent federal reforms that will protect women, people of faith and LGBTQ+ students and staff in religious schools. 

“This is about treating people fairly. Everyone should be protected under the law and no one should be granted permission to discriminate, especially if being funded by our tax dollars,” Thorpe said. 

“Discrimination against our community in religious schools and organisations is a huge problem and has been for years.” 

Two years ago, the swimming icon successfully campaigned against Scott Morrison’s controversial religious discrimination bill. 

 “Our community came together and we helped to stop it going ahead,” Thorpe said, adding it was now time for the Albanese government to make good on its commitment to remove the carveouts that make this discrimination lawful. 

“There are still federal exemptions that allow religious organisations to discriminate against LGBTIQ+ people. They can fire staff and expel students. They can also deny care, like access to crisis support, shelter for the homeless and other services. 

“Children shouldn’t be punished by their school for being gay, people shouldn’t be fired for falling in love and family members shouldn’t be denied the chance to adopt a relative because they are in a same-sex relationship. 

“The government promised before the last election that they would fix this. Now they’re stalling. We need to come together again to make sure they follow through.” 

Last month Equality Australia launched a ground-breaking report that found LGBTQ+ discrimination is endemic in religious schools and organisations around the country. 

It also found Australia was out of step with international law and practice and LGBTQ+ students were more likely to attend an independent school that discriminates against them than supports them.   

“These schools and faith-based service providers organisations rely on billions of dollars of public funding but are not required to comply with the same laws when it comes to employment, education and service delivery,” said Equality Australia CEO Anna Brown. 

“The law in Australia is out of step with 21st century community expectations and it urgently needs to change.”  

One in three students and almost two in five staff are enrolled or employed in private schools, most of which are religiously affiliated. More than 70,000 students and 10,000 staff in non-government schools are estimated to be LGBTQ+, the report found. 

Ms Brown thanked Thorpe for his ongoing efforts to protect these staff and students called on the community to help fund the fight for federal protections.  

“We need the support of our community to back our campaign for federal protections because every day the government delays is another day more harm is being done,” she said. 

To donate: https://help-end-religious-discrimination.raiselysite.com/