- by cnn
- 29 Sep 2023
Religious discrimination laws and protection for gay students and teachers are set to be flashpoints in the contest between progressive independents and Liberal moderates in inner-city seats.
Already facing challenges from independents campaigning on climate change, Liberal moderates such as Dave Sharma in Wentworth and Trent Zimmerman in North Sydney are urging the prime minister to deliver on a promise to amend sex discrimination laws to prevent students being expelled or teachers being fired on the basis of their sexuality.
Critics of the religious discrimination bill, which recognises the right of religious groups to employ people aligned with their beliefs, fear it could clear the way for religious schools to expel gay students on the basis of their sexuality or to sack teachers, unless a loophole in the sex discrimination laws is closed.
A group of moderate Liberals have urged Scott Morrison to take action on both pieces of legislation at the same time.
Morrison, who promised to deal with the issue in 2018, said he would now prefer to refer it to the Law Reform Commission.
The issue could flare up in progressive inner-city seats in Sydney and Melbourne, where independents are already running a narrative that moderates talk the talk on climate change but vote the same way as conservatives such as Barnaby Joyce.
His opponent in Wentworth, independent Allegra Spender, also wants to see both pieces of legislation put forward but said voters should pay attention to how Sharma votes as well as his advocacy.
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