Bill Shorten
Australian Labor Party opposition leader Bill Shorten speaks at his election night party in Melbourne, July 2, 2016 on Australia's federal election day. Reuters/Jason Reed

Labor not only wants to protect gay students from being expelled from faith-based schools, he also wants to protect gay teachers from being fired. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten announced the policy shift on Monday following the leaked religious freedom review.

The Ruddock report, obtained by Fairfax Media, states that religious schools could expel LGBT students and fire gay teachers. As Prime Minister Scott Morrison had said then, schools rejecting gay students was already an “existing law” in some states. He has since backtracked and said schools should never discriminate LGBT students.

The federal government is set to remove the power of religious schools to discriminate against children based on their sexuality this week. The Labor Party would want to take it one step further and protect teachers as well.

“I’m pleased both sides of politics are now united in the view that exemptions allowing religious schools to discriminate against children should be removed. I believe we can use this goodwill to go further and remove the exemption that would allow a teacher or school staff member to be sacked or refused employment because of their sexual orientation,” he said. “These laws are no longer appropriate, if indeed they ever were appropriate. It’s time our laws reflected the values we teach our children.”

Deputy Liberal leader Josh Frydenberg agreed that there should not be any room for discrimination, “be it [against] a student or a teacher.” Dave Sharma, Liberal candidate for Wentworth, also said he believed independent schools should “absolutely not” have the right to discriminate against gay teachers.

However, when asked about Frydenberg’s statement, Morrison refused to take immediate action on the issue. While said the legal changes to protect gay students needed to be “addressed urgently,” there “will be a time and a place” to address protection for the teachers.

When the religious freedom report, headed by former Liberal minister Phillip Ruddock, was leaked last week, it has incited debate on LGBT protection and discrimination. It recommends the Sex Discrimination Act to be amended, as well as the amendment of the Racial Discrimination Act or creation of a Religious Discrimination Act among others.