College regrets contract calling homosexuality 'sinful'

A school has expressed regret over a student contract that labelled homosexuality "sinful", sparking calls to expedite revamped federal discrimination laws.

Citipointe Christian College in Brisbane's southeast made national headlines after introducing the controversial contract in 2022.

Students could only be enrolled on the basis of their biological sex while homosexuality was compared with bestiality, incest and pedophilia.

The school later withdrew the contract and the principal resigned in the fallout over the controversy.

Protest against Citipointe Christian College in 2022
A religious school's contract labelling homosexuality "sinful" sparked LGBTQI protests in 2022.

Two years later the school has expressed its remorse.

"We regret any distress or concern which was caused to students, parents and guardians of students or prospective students of the college," the school said in a statement.

LGBTQI advocates welcomed the statement but said it raised the need for broader student protections at religious schools nationwide.

“We know if Citipointe happened elsewhere in Australia, in NSW or Western Australia, LGBTQ+ students and teachers look to be discriminated against without any legal protections," Equality Australia legal director Ghassan Kassisieh told reporters on Monday.

The federal government drafted two bills in March after the Australian Law Reform Commission recommended scrapping laws that allow religious schools to discriminate against staff on the basis of their faith.

Draft laws offering legal protections against religious and LGBTQI discrimination have not been publicly released and the federal government said it would only proceed with bipartisan support.

Mr Kassisieh called for the Commonwealth to urgently implement the changes.

"The federal government promised to close those gaps and there are bills that can be introduced today that will ensure that wherever a Citipointe happens in Australia, laws will back up behind students and teachers against discrimination," he said.

The call was echoed by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre that argued states like NSW and WA currently have limited protections for LGBTQI students and teachers.

"All students should have the right to learn and grow, free from the fear of discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity," director Alastair Lawrie said in a statement.

A bill is being considered by the NSW government that would provide better protections for LGBTQI students and teachers.

Citipointe's statement was a result of mediation work following a Human Rights Commission complaint.

The school said it was committed to inclusion and the continued education of its staff and students on how to be respectful and value people regardless of their race, religion, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Jo Sampford.
Protections for students and teachers can be improved, LGBTI Legal Service boss Jo Sampford says.

LGBTI Legal Service, which was involved in mediation work with the school, said Queensland's discrimination laws provided strong protections for students and should set the standard nationally.

"The news that broke two years ago had a national impact and I hope it makes clear and sets the standard for the rest of the country," director and principal solicitor Jo Sampford told AAP.

But she believed there was still room for improvement.

"There are still some big loopholes for LGBTQ teachers who have no protection against employment contracts that contain similar statements of faith," Ms Sampford said.

She called on the Queensland government to bring reforms to parliament before the October election.

Former teacher and parent Helen Clapham Burns resigned and pulled her child from the school over the Citipointe contract.

She said the statement was a step towards reconciliation between the educational institution and LGBTQI community.

"This statement is very powerful. I think it demonstrates that organisations that have different interpretations of religious beliefs are able to come together to agree that we want children to feel safe and protected in an education environment," she told ABC Radio on Monday.

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