Archbishop of the Anglican Church Diocese of Sydney Glenn Davies defended a letter sent out by the Diocese which called for exemptions to discrimination law to remain in place.

Davies said that the letter was calling for the exemptions to be left alone until potential reforms are introduced to preserve the church’s “positive right” to religious freedoms, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The letter, which was signed by the heads of Anglican educational institutions, drew anger from Anglicans and inspired a petition in response.

The petition, which has now been signed by over 2500 people, calls on the schools to back down from the letter.

The Church’s original letter claimed that there is “little evidence” that LGBTI students or staff are being discriminated against in schools within the diocese.

Member for Sydney Alex Greenwich requested a formal apology from the Church, both over its defence of the exemptions and for the diocese’s anti-marriage equality campaigning during the postal survey last year.

Davies claimed that Anglican schools don’t discriminate against LGBTI students and staff and suggested he would support the removal of the exemptions “that they didn’t ask for” from the Sex Discrimination Act.

He said the letter was advocating for Anglican schools’ ability to “teach within their beliefs and ethos”, which he believes would be impinged on by the exemptions’ removal.

Davies said it would be a “misjudgment” to not provide for religious freedom in response to the exemptions’ removal, and made a comparison to a boarding house master entering a relationship with a married woman as “modelling adultery” to students and therefore providing grounds for his removal.

Meanwhile, Ballarat Anglicans passed a motion to recognise same-sex marriages with blessings, though this would not allow churches within the diocese to conduct same-sex weddings.

Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane Dr Phillip Aspinall also took a stand against the Diocese of Sydney’s letter in his own letter.

“Within the Anglican Church there is a wide spectrum of understanding about human sexuality and gender,” Aspinall wrote.

“Within a school community there may also be diversity of opinion. For some, this is a sensitive topic.

“However, differences of opinion do not negate the necessity for school environments to enable all people to feel included, to be safe and to flourish.”

Davies donated $1 million to the No campaign during the marriage equality postal survey, and has previously described same-sex marriage as “unholy matrimony”.

In a recent speech, Davies said the leaks of the Ruddock review’s recommendations were the work of “enemies of religious freedom”.

He said the leaks “exposed the hypocrisy of those who, during the same-sex marriage campaign, repeatedly told the Australian public that same-sex marriage would have absolutely no consequences for religious freedom.”

“Now they have revealed what has always been their agenda–to force religious schools to play by secular rules,” Davies said.

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