The Australian Government has proposed a postal survey on the question of Marriage Equality.
It is disappointing that the Federal Government has abrogated its responsibility as the nation’s law-makers to deal with this issue in a professional and sensitive manner consistent with their elected role. The IEU believes that the Federal Government should have provided an opportunity for all members of parliament to debate an appropriate Bill and exercise a conscience vote.
As a consequence of the Federal Government’s failure to act, IEU members are concerned about the potential divisiveness that this survey-process could cause in schools and in particular the hurt and harm that could be caused to their students
The IEU policy on Inclusion states: “That schools, colleges and higher education institutions should be free from hostility, prejudice, intimidation and violence and be safe sanctuaries for children, [and] young people…”
We know that there has been a history of hurtful and often dangerous language, and indeed physical violence, directed at children in schools and on the playgrounds in relation to the issues of LGBTI over many years.
The IEU and its members are extremely concerned that our schools could become fertile ground for damaging speech in the community during the upcoming debate.
Whilst respecting the rights of faith organisations to represent their views and beliefs, the IEU membership would expect our schools to be safe havens for all students during the coming period and that neither staff nor students are put into situations where inappropriate or hostile commentary, or action, is directed at them
The IEU reminds employers of their responsibility to provide safe and respectful working environments to all employees.
The IEU is acutely aware that many of our members work in faith-based education settings, and that their views on the marriage equality debate will reflect the broader community’s views.
Nevertheless, the IEU believes that a distinction between a marriage recognised by civil law and a sacramental marriage needs to be drawn. Accordingly, legislation to expand civil marriage to the union of two persons of the same gender should have both: consideration for the wellbeing of same sex couples and their children; and consideration for the needs and teachings of faith-based communities in respect of their understanding of the sacramental marriage.
The IEU urges all to provide leadership in this debate in the coming months by participating in a respectful and considered manner.
IEUA Federal Secretary
Read More; Postal Survey on Marriage Equality