We do not single out gay people, Australian Jewish schools say

Umbrella body says it is unaffected by government plans to ban discrimination in Australia's religious schools


Australia’s Jewish community is not affected by government proposals to ban discrimination against gay students because its schools do not segregate on the basis of sexuality, according to an umbrella body.

The Australian Council of Jewish Schools (ACJS), which represents 18 schools in the country, said its institutions did not discriminate against students or teachers and did not “need or support any continued exemption” in law.

The government announced last weekend that it would ban schools from expelling students over their sexuality in federal law after a review highlighted rules that allowed faith-based schools in some states to discriminate against gay students and teachers.

The report was commissioned after Australia legalised same-sex marriage last year.

“I will be taking action to ensure amendments are introduced as soon as practicable to make it clear that no student of a non-state school should be expelled on the basis of their sexuality,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

But the ACJS said in a letter signed by Co-Chair Stephen Rothman that, as far as Jewish schools were concerned, new laws were unnecessary: “None of our schools discriminates against staff employed or to be employed on the basis of their sexuality, gender or sexual preferences.

“However, they do need to have the capacity to insist on a public lifestyle that is consistent with the ethos of the school.”

It added: “Some of our schools conduct single-sex schools or campuses, which is necessary in their view of Jewish law. Generally, they treat a person as he or she presents, without investigation.”

Mr Morrison’s remarks triggered a nationwide debate on the issue ahead of a crucial by-election on Saturday.

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