Liberal MP Fiona Martin shares why she crossed the floor for Religious Discrimination Bill

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First-term Liberal MP, Fiona Martin, was one of five party members who crossed the Parliamentary floor last Thursday to pass Labor amendments to the government’s Religious Discrimination Bill.

The bill was a packaged deal that was accompanied by a proposal to amend s38(3) of the Sex Discrimination Act, which gives religious schools a legal exemption to discriminate against students on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

READ MORE: ‘We are very vulnerable’: Fiona Martin MP warns national mental health will take time.

READ MORE: ‘It fills the void’: Attorney-General and Immigration Minister discuss Religious Discrimination Bill.

Dr Martin supported the government’s centrepiece Religious Discrimination Bill, but half an hour later crossed the floor to vote for an amendment to scrap s38(3) provision entirely, extending protections to transgender students as well.

In an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, Dr Martin, who has two decades worth of experience as a child psychologist, said she had to cross the floor to defend her principles.

READ MORE: Fiona Martin MP calls for ‘critically significant’ reform of mental health system.

Fiona Martin MP.

“This is what defines me as a human. I’ve dedicated my life to child psychology, and then to support something that hurts these vulnerable people that I’ve actually worked with just goes against everything that I stand for,” Dr Martin said in the interview.

“In the end, I wanted a guarantee that our kids were going to be protected and there did not seem to be any certainty there.”

Ultimately the law currently remains unchanged. While the religious discrimination package passed the Lower House, the government shelved the bill before it could be debated in the Senate.

READ MORE: Fiona Martin MP launches ‘Liberal Friends of Greece’ initiative.

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