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"I think it's a loving response."
February 12, 2011 2:51 AM   Subscribe

Attorney-General, John Hatzistergos, backs a NSW law that allows private schools to expel gay students simply for being gay. "But the churches are now divided. The Anglican bishop of South Sydney, Robert Forsyth, told the Herald: 'I don't think our schools would want to use it.'"
posted by rodgerd (40 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Through a spokesman, Mr Hatzistergos, described the 30-year-old law as necessary "to maintain a sometimes delicate balance between protecting individuals from unlawful discrimination while allowing people to practise their own beliefs".

where "their own beliefs" are "we should be able to engage in this discrimination without suffering any legal repercussions", I guess...
posted by russm at 3:06 AM on February 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Onion: http://www.theonion.com/articles/future-us-history-students-its-pretty-embarrassing,19099/
posted by bystander at 3:44 AM on February 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


But cheer up, we'll have a conservative government in NSW soon enough (although they have backed down on the ethics classes, and will now let them continue).
posted by bystander at 3:45 AM on February 12, 2011


... and the horse he rode in on.
posted by adamt at 3:51 AM on February 12, 2011


It's confusing. Australia seems to be really secular (we have an openly atheist Prime Minister) but there's no Seperation of Church and State in the Constitution and there are Catholic schools everywhere. This law is outrageous, but without a Bill of Rights what can people do?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:51 AM on February 12, 2011


I'm too busy spluttering with disgust to write a legible comment.

But it would be a cold day in hell before I'd allow my children to attend a school which actively discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation.

I was in high school in the 80's, one of our fellow students was openly gay, and he was one of the most popular blokes in our year. We're having a reunion next weekend, and he is the one that everyone - male and female - has asked after. And this was in the 80's! We had no problem with him liking guys way back then, in our small country town.

How the hell can our legislation still support homophobia? Wrong, on so many levels.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 4:08 AM on February 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Well, maybe people in Australia need to work out a constitution.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 4:10 AM on February 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Every time New South Wales (NSW) comes up I read it as NSWF. Apparently in NSW, gay students are NSFS (Not Safe For School).
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:24 AM on February 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


okay

this law is stupid, i don't want to support it, it just made me wonder

we already have schools that discriminate by gender, so...

supposing there were schools that only accepted those of a particular sexual identity, preferably an otherwise poorly represented one, like maybe asexuality or something

would that be alright?
posted by LogicalDash at 4:33 AM on February 12, 2011


Well, maybe people in Australia need to work out a constitution.

Then they could be just like the US, a magical fairytale land without discrimination and bigotry.
posted by atrazine at 4:50 AM on February 12, 2011 [9 favorites]


"I think that this is a loving response".
posted by wilful at 4:52 AM on February 12, 2011


I think that this is a loving response.

Well then, Jim Wallace, I think our definitions of love might differ a little, and that you're an evil bigoted thug.
posted by Ahab at 4:58 AM on February 12, 2011


This is pretty trivial outrage porn actually. It's dusty law written back when homosexuality was illegal. It hasn't been used and it may never be used. If it is used, if a gay kid is ever expelled using it, I suspect there'd be loud and widespread outrage about it. Some numbskull soon-to-be-voted Attorney-General said he supports it but his view likely in the minority within Parliament.

If you want to get loud about queer rights, do it about something that matters more than this kind of procedural, highly speculative crap.
posted by dontjumplarry at 5:03 AM on February 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


*soon to be outvoted*
posted by dontjumplarry at 5:04 AM on February 12, 2011


So this shows that people are assholes in every hemisphere, right?
posted by hal_c_on at 5:10 AM on February 12, 2011


...described the 30-year-old law as necessary "to maintain a sometimes delicate balance between protecting individuals from unlawful discrimination while allowing people to practise their own beliefs".

So..."delicate balance" means one side of the scale lays flat against the table while the other side swings back and forth in the air?
posted by PlusDistance at 5:12 AM on February 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's a loving response in the SomethingAwful forum sense, certainly. You know, as in "Love you, I got mine."
posted by No-sword at 5:23 AM on February 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, maybe people in Australia need to work out a constitution.

wtf?

yeah, there is in fact no legal basis for our government. that's it, exactly.
posted by russm at 5:34 AM on February 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


"I think it's a loving response."

took me a second to realize this wasn't passed through the SA profanity filter.
posted by tylermoody at 5:38 AM on February 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Maybe I'm protest drunk right now, but assuming this law goes through, wouldn't it be cool if entire schools "came out" in support of their gay friends and forced the schools to expel them? Call these asshole conservatives' bluffs and force them to expel all students from school.

There's an entire generation of young people who've been shown that peaceful protest does work; wouldn't it be great if that snowballed, and the people started to overturn this type of discriminatory behaviour?
posted by dflemingecon at 6:09 AM on February 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's an odd article. There's no mention of why this has come up and why the AG and church people have weighed in. I was expecting to read something about someone who has been expelled because of the law but .. nada.

Obviously it's an anachronistic blight on the legal books and I would guess a repeal would be a better than even bet to get through. But why is it an issue NOW??? Hmm. Oooh, that's right. There's a state election coming up. Maybe David Marr (journo) has a pet peeve about the law and has done this of his own volition thinking he can stoke the most flames now. Or something.
posted by peacay at 6:15 AM on February 12, 2011


Maybe I'm protest drunk right now, but assuming this law goes through,

dflemingecon, it's not a new law, it's one that been on the books for a long time. The story is more that a currently serving Attorney General still thinks it's a good and relevant law rather than say, an archaic holdover from less enlightened days(*) that just hasn't been removed from the books yet.

* 1980?!? Good grief. Can I just pretend to myself it's a typo and this law was introduced in 1890 instead... I'd feel ever so much better about the country then...
posted by adamt at 6:18 AM on February 12, 2011


Are these basically public schools with public funding or are they strictly private, funded by the church/tuition schools? Because while that doesn't change my opinion that any school that would enforce this law is run by bigotted assholes, it does have an effect on whether I think they should be allowed to be.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:28 AM on February 12, 2011


"This is pretty trivial outrage porn actually. It's dusty law written back when homosexuality was illegal. It hasn't been used and it may never be used. If it is used, if a gay kid is ever expelled using it, I suspect there'd be loud and widespread outrage about it."

I've got this response whenever I get angry about some Aussie law - Internet filter, abortion being illegal, no R18 rating for games - and it pisses me off. If a law is immoral, change it! Fight it! "No worries, mate" shouldn't extend into politics.
Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.
And without a Bill of Rights what's the legal framework for fighting for rights. I had a young Labor friend tell me I had no right to free speech!
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:40 AM on February 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


How bloody awful for the children and young adults of NSW to be exposed to such hatred, to be betrayed by their supposed guardian adults who hold authority, against something they can't help. Whether they come out or not, their experience will be hell as a result of this.

Stay strong, kids.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 8:07 AM on February 12, 2011


Are these basically public schools with public funding or are they strictly private, funded by the church/tuition schools?

I don't know about on the state level, but the federal government provides significant funding for non-government schools.
posted by adamt at 8:12 AM on February 12, 2011


I suppose I should make some snarky response about how nice it is to see the rest of the so-called c civilized world is as messed up as the US is on these issues, and how glad I am to be an atheist, but honestly, this story and the law involved just make me sad.
posted by immlass at 8:43 AM on February 12, 2011


This law is outrageous, but without a Bill of Rights what can people do?

That wouldn't help in this situation--you'd have freedom of religion and right of free association on one side and equal protection on the other.

The real problem here is separation of church and state. Freedom of religion does mean freedom to be a fucking bigot and act like Fred Phelps (ironically, one of the giants of Kansas City anti-discrimination law back in the day). But public funding of such bigotry is bullshit. Stop funding the churches and let the religious schools do what their beliefs supposedly say.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:08 AM on February 12, 2011


A bit off topic, but...

And without a Bill of Rights what's the legal framework for fighting for rights. I had a young Labor friend tell me I had no right to free speech!

IANAL, but I think your friend is technically correct, but if that's all that he/she said then there's a big detail missing. There's no constitutional provision that directly protects free speech rights in Australia. What there is, however, is a passage (damned if remember where it is) that requires that we have "representative government", or something like that. The High Court has interpreted that as implying a right to political free speech. The scope of that protection isn't obvious though. It's not as broad as the US first amendment, but the Wikipedia article I linked to does seem to suggest that it might not be as narrow as I used to assume.

there's no Seperation of Church and State in the Constitution

Surprisingly, there is: "The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth." (section 116).

It's just that the High Court has always interpreted this section narrowly. And in any case this restriction applies to the Commonwealth, not to the States.
posted by mixing at 10:46 AM on February 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yes, things are not necessarily any better in the United States. Sexual orientation isn't a suspect class(*) in federal law. Private religious schools and organizations have a right to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation as long as they don't tug on federal purse strings. And LGBT kids in public schools are covered by a patchwork of local and state policies which may support them, or may openly discriminate. Institutional discrimination of kids who come out of the closet appears to be fairly common.

But this got under my skin, "I think that you explain: this is a Christian school, that unless the child is prepared to accept that it is chaste, that it is searching for alternatives as well, that the school may decide that it might be better for the child as well that he goes somewhere else. I think it's a loving response."

On top of the weird ambiguous pronoun shifts, Brigadier Jim Wallace is just echoing one of the uglier stereotypes of LGBT people, that we're just coming out for the sex, sex, sex.

(*) Suspect class meaning that a law that discriminates on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or political affiliation faces a much higher standard of scrutiny.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:46 AM on February 12, 2011


To balance this out:
When I first moved here my two Catholic aunts - one a nun - encouraged me to go to Sydney's famous gay Mardi Gras. There were almost no protests- I think there was one. It was amazing
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 11:34 AM on February 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


My sister and her parther were asked to "reconsider another parish" ("please stay but your presence makes others uncomfortable"...In Ann Arbor Michigan!)
all us kids were baptized at that church, sunday school, bible school and as a kid i thought sneaking into the worship area, the pews and alter- what ever, would be my time with god, little 5-6 year old trying to find god under the pews, I knew he was silent so i just talked and listened and then got caught, sent back to 'pillars of salt' study group. I'm good with god but I will never have another warm thought for my home parish. I just thank god there are clergy who open and welcome others who do not "fit some norm" and they just plain teach and comfort better IMO and are humrous and loving. In 2003, when the priests at ms. clavs catholic church blessed solders and spoke of vauge singularites about honor and war I under stood, not my place to judge and I am a christ lover...but not a catholic...and never will. I love agnostics myself. They seem to make the better poker players.
God is great, glory to god and pass the scotch after a day of good deeds.
posted by clavdivs at 2:43 PM on February 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


The NSW stage Labor government is a corpse swaying in the wind, rotting while it waits to be cut down. The Liberals won't be better when they get in at the March election but at least there can be a faint hope that one day in the distant future, when Labor finally gets back in after years of wandering in the desert, they will have learned something about being less filthy and corrupt. A faint hope.
there's no Seperation of Church and State in the Constitution

Surprisingly, there is: "The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth." (section 116).

It's just that the High Court has always interpreted this section narrowly. And in any case this restriction applies to the Commonwealth, not to the States.
Interestingly, a guy from Queensland is challenging the federal funding of school chaplains as prohibited by section 116 (here's his site). He has a mound of precedent against him, but this High Court has proven quite happy to rule against the government in cases like this one.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 3:10 PM on February 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Lovecraft In Brooklyn - And without a Bill of Rights what's the legal framework for fighting for rights.

just out of curiosity, *with* a bill of rights, what's the legal framework for fighting for rights that aren't enumerated I that bill of rights?
posted by russm at 4:34 PM on February 12, 2011


"enumerated in", of course...
posted by russm at 4:36 PM on February 12, 2011


Rule one: NAW POOFTERS!
posted by [expletive deleted] at 5:48 PM on February 12, 2011


The fact that a law like this exists makes me really angry, although I couldn't see it being used directly. When I attended a single sex religious school in NSW, I did hear rumours about kids at similar schools that had been "asked to leave" because of their sexuality - but in many of the cases, I'm pretty sure there were other reasons, and that sexuality just seemed the most convenient to onlookers.

These schools were somewhat discriminatory against openly gay students though - our brother school specified on their year 12 formal invitation that the boys were allowed to bring one female guest. I'm not sure that anybody has had the balls to challenge this and bring a same sex partner, yet. It can't be far off, and it will be interesting to see what sort of challenge they put up.
posted by cholly at 12:35 AM on February 13, 2011


So if the Attorney General thinks this kind of bullshit (seriously? 1980?) is ok, then what would need to happen to get rid of it?

I am so cheering on that guy who's opposing the chaplains. If parents want their kids to have a religious education or the support of a priest, they'd be taking them to church and sending them to a private religious school. Chaplains have got no right to be in a public school. And given that Australia's priests have had similar pedophilia cover-ups to those elsewhere around the world, I sure hope the schools are doing thorough background checks on the chaplains they're employing. Hasty changes from one parish to another should be treated as highly suspect.
posted by harriet vane at 1:38 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


funnily, in english public schools (meaning: rich, priviledged & private) you can be a fag.

also, didn't jesus hang out with lepers, prostitutes, tax collectors and zealots? these people don't even know their own religion.
posted by marienbad at 4:47 AM on February 13, 2011


russm, mixing, I don't think that talking constitutional matters with people who don't have a clue is going to get you far.
posted by wilful at 3:55 PM on February 13, 2011


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