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Australian Government guts gay Safe Schools program to placate conservative MPs

Australian Government guts gay Safe Schools program to placate conservative MPs

The Australian Government is winding back the scope of a program aimed at combating anti-LGBTI bullying in schools, restricting the program to high schools and requiring parental consent before any student can take part in the program, it was announced today.

Other resources that form part of the Safe Schools program will only be provided to students who specifically ask for them – potentially forcing students to out themselves to school staff in order to gain access to information.

There will also be no referral of students to third party support groups such as LGBTI youth group Minus18 or links to third party websites where students could find other information about sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Australian Government initially supported funding the Safe Schools program and it was already being run in 515 schools across Australia.

However anti-gay conservatives within its own ranks began campaigning against the program after Christian groups began attacking it, resulting in Australian Education Minister Simon Birmingham ordering a review of the program by Professor William Louden.

When that review cleared the program the anti-gay faction among the ruling Liberal-National Coalition of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull began calling for a full parliamentary inquiry into Safe Schools.

Liberal-National MP George Christiensen then began circulating a petition among government backbenchers against the Safe Schools program, calling it to be defunded, attracting 43 signatures out of the 81 Liberal and National party MPs who do not hold portfolio responsibilities in the government.

Among these was the signature of former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott who Turnbull deposed and under who’s leadership the Safe Schools program had achieved federal funding in the first place.

Christiensen had accused the program of indoctrinating students into ‘queer theory, sexual liberation and Marxism’ and likened it to how child molesters ‘groom’ their victims.

The timing of the government’s decision couldn’t have been worse, with the announcement that the program was being scaled back coming on Australia’s National Dat of Action Against Bullying.

Christiensen has welcomed the government’s winding back of the program, saying it had given him even more than what he had been asking for.

‘It is better than an inquiry. Effectively, gutting the program of all of the concerning content is what I wanted at the end of the day – or the program shut down,’ Christiensen said earlier today.

However the backdown may make Prime Minister Turnbull look like he is not in control of his own government at a time when it is widely believed he is preparing to call an early election.