The Anglican Diocese of Sydney is planning a ban on same-sex weddings as well as advocacy for LGBTI causes on church premises.
The Anglican Church has also suggested that the removal of religious exemptions to anti-discrimination laws, which allow them to fire LGBTI students and staff, is seen as a “key threat”, according to a report in The Age.
If introduced, the property policy would prohibit advocacy for “transgender ideology (e.g gender-fluidity)” and “expressions of human sexuality contrary to our doctrine of marriage”.
Local Anglican boards would also be banned from allowing venues like school halls to be used for same-sex weddings or receptions thereof.
“The message is potently clear – no priest or pastor has the right to speak in favour of marriage equality,” said Equal Voices co-chair Joel Hollier.
Hollier, who is a gay Anglican and former pastor, labelled the crackdown a “silencing act”.
“Nor are they able to speak freely to the reality of parishioners experiencing gender dysphoria. Churches that suggest otherwise will face the consequences.”
Author of the policy Michael Stead, Bishop of South Sydney, said that it “doesn’t represent a change in our position and I wouldn’t expect it to have an effect on any activities currently occurring on church trust property.”
“Because the federal government has changed its definition of marriage, the policy makes clear the church’s doctrine of marriage has not changed and that property use scenarios relate only to man/woman marriage.”
Stead’s report suggested that it would be “prudent” to reinforce the Church’s view of marriage to make use of exemptions available to them under New South Wales anti-discrimination law.
Earlier this week he declared that “Anglican schools in Sydney do not expel students for being gay.”
The highly conservative Archbishop said that leaks of the religious freedom review recommendations are an indication that “the enemies of religious freedom have been hard at work”.
“This week has 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,” he said.
“Now they have revealed what has always been their agenda–to force religious schools to play by secular rules.”
Stead’s report describes the removal of religious institutions’ ‘right to discriminate’ is designed to hinder their ability to maintain “the Christian ethos of our Anglican institutions is in relation to the employment of Christian staff.”
Last week, religious organisations like the Uniting Church and a Brisbane community church spoke out against the Ruddock review recommendation that schools’ ability to discriminate against LGBTI staff and students be further protected by law.