Senators will not vote on a Labor bill to remove the right of religious schools to discriminate against gay students after the coalition government won support for a delay.
Legislation was due to be voted on Monday afternoon but government Senate leader Mathias Cormann suspended the debate, ensuring protections will not be in place this year.
The move enraged Labor's Senate leader Penny Wong, who shouted it was an "outrage" after being caught off-guard by the government's tactics.
She accused the government of up-ending the Senate to avoid voting on protecting LGBTIQ children because they were worried about losing a lower house vote, where the coalition no longer commands a majority.
"Call an election instead of lying the way you have about this issue," Senator Wong told parliament.
She savaged Centre Alliance's two senators for voting for the delay, telling Rex Patrick "shame on you" for siding with the government.
Senator Cormann said the government supported the aims of legislation, but wanted to refine it through a parliamentary committee.
"We support it with reasonable amendments to ensure that for example religious schools can provide appropriate rules for the proper conduct of their schools," Senator Cormann said.
Labor's legislation which would prevent schools from excluding students on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Cabinet minister Michaelia Cash argued the opposition's plan would prevent religious schools from enforcing rules like making students attend chapel.
"Labor's bill completely removes the ability of religious educational institutions to maintain their ethos through what they teach and the rules of conduct they impose on students," Senator Cash told parliament.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten introduced a bill to the lower house on Monday mirroring the draft laws before the Senate.
"Our country does not need another nasty, ill-informed debate about whether people's sexuality somehow diminishes their right to equality," Mr Shorten told parliament.
"Especially when the Australians we're talking about are children and young people."
Mr Shorten said the bill would not hurt a school's ability to teach religion or make students attend chapel.
Labor will also introduce a bill to prevent religious schools from discriminating against gay staff members in the first sitting fortnight of next year, the Labor leader said.
Australian Associated Press