An Australian Christian school that caused outrage for requiring parents to sign an enrollment contract that refers to homosexuality as a sin has withdrawn the document.
Citipointe Christian College in Brisbane had given parents a deadline to sign the document which compared homosexuality to bestiality, incest and pedophilia.
The contract also said the college would only enroll a student “on the basis of the gender that corresponds to their biological sex” and suggested students could be expelled based on sexual orientation, gender identity or sexual activity.
On Thursday, the school’s principal Pastor Brian Mulheran said in a media statement the college had withdrawn the enrollment contract and families would no longer be asked to agree to the document for their child to attend the school.
“We deeply regret that some students feel that they would be discriminated against because of their sexuality or gender identity, and I apologize to them and their families on behalf of the College,” Mulheran said.
“As stated previously, the College does not and will not discriminate against any student because of their sexuality or gender identity. It is central to our faith that being gay or transgender in no way diminishes a person’s humanity or dignity in God’s eyes.”
The college is one of Queensland’s largest independent schools, teaching around 1,700 children from primary through to secondary education, according to its website.
The initial contract caused widespread criticism and a Change.org petition demanding it be revoked garnered more than 150,000 signatures.
The team campaigning against the contract said it was “glad to receive the positive news” and that “this is the first step to ensuring that our schools remain a safe space for all LGBTQI+ students.”
However, the petition’s creator Bethany Lau said the school’s actions are “indicative of a much broader issue.”
“Whilst many may be celebrating today, the reality is that Citipointe has made it clear that although it is no longer written in the contract, their view on the matter remains fundamentally the same,” Lau said in a statement.
“Many students across the nation will be scared to return to school on Monday. This contract has traumatized students, parents and the community, and we recognize that there is a lot of work to do in supporting these people.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Thursday he doesn’t agree with school contracts that discriminate against students.
“I don’t support that. My kids go to a Christian school in Sydney and I wouldn’t want my school doing that either,” he told Brisbane radio station B105.
Morrison said the government will amend proposed legislation on religious discrimination to protect LGBTQ children from being expelled or discriminated against by schools because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
“The bill that we’re going to be taking through parliament will have an amendment that will deal with that to ensure the kids cannot be discriminated against on that basis,” Morrison said.
Morrison did not give any details as to what the amendment would look like.
The Religious Discrimination Bill, which is still working its way through parliament, says will protect citizens from discrimination on the basis of religious belief or activity, just as current laws prohibit discrimination based on race, sex, disability and age.
However the bill has faced widespread opposition, with critics concerned it would allow religious bodies, including schools and charities, to discriminate if it’s consistent with their core beliefs.