Former Citipointe student speaks out against religious bigotry

February 10, 2022
No right to discriminate banner at February 9 protest
No right to discriminate banner at February 9 protest. Photo: Alex Bainbridge

Former Citipointe student Jared Mifsud spoke out against the so-called Religious Discrimination Bill at a rally on February 9.

Citipointe Christian College provoked community outrage on January 28 by sending parents an anti-gay and anti-trans enrolment contract. The contract described being gay or trans as "sinful" and linked these to incest, bestiality and paedophilia.

The contract was withdrawn by February 3 after a massive community response, including more than 150,000 signatures on a petition, public opposition from parents, former students and the resignation of teacher Helen Clapham Burns.

Lawyers, including LBGTI Legal Service president Matilda Alexander, said that the contract contained illegal clauses which violated the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Act. "You can't contract out of discrimination law," she told the ABC.

By February 5, the school principal Brian Mulheran announced he would stand aside and take extended leave.

This is an important victory for the movement against discrimination, athough former student Felicity Myers told the ABC that she believes "the culture [of discrimination] that has been created ... will still be evident within the school and church despite this contract being withdrawn."

Mifsud called on everybody at the rally, and more broadly, to stand up against the government's Religious Discrimination Bill. "This bill does not provide freedoms, it is taking away people's freedoms," he said.

He told the rally that he knew from a young age that he was gay. There are "no words", he said, to describe the trauma inflicted on a young person who is told "from a young age that you will go hell for all of eternity".

"No child should be made to feel that they are alone in this world," he said, but the language promoted in the school does "exactly that".

"At the end of the day, a school's most important job is education and the safety and well-being of all students."

More than 700 people attended the February 9 rally, which was called at two day's notice.

Greens MP Amy MacMahon called on Labor to reject the bill. "With LNP members crossing the floor, there is a chance we could stop this bill in its tracks, in the House," she said. "It doesn't need to go to the senate — we could stop this bill this week. But, today, Labor have said they are willing to wave the bill through the lower house regardless of whether their amendments are adopted. Why not just stop it now?"

The attempt by Citipointe to bring in a discriminatory enrolment contract shows the danger of the religious bigotry bill becoming law. Such developments would become more common.

However, the huge public opposition to the bill, reflected in Liberal-National Party members willing the cross the floor, means that the bill can be defeated.

Mifsud told the rally that "our voices are being heard" and that "the majority of Australians support this bill being scrapped". He also told the revealing story of a boy, going into year 6 at Citipointe this year, who came out to his parents after seeing the news reports about the contract and protest against it. The boy later came out to the entire school at an assembly and received a standing ovation.

That shows this bill can be defeated.

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