New rules from the Sydney diocese of the Anglican Church could ban the use of any church-owned building to promote homosexuality or “transgender ideology.”
Next week, the 51st Synod of the Sydney diocese will debate a property policy that will prohibit “acts or practices which conform to the doctrines, tenets and beliefs of the diocese” on church property.
The policy specifies that this includes “advocacy for transgender ideology (e.g gender-fluidity)” and “advocacy for expressions of human sexuality contrary to our doctrine of marriage.”
It would also ban any property from hosting a same-sex wedding or a reception for a same-sex wedding.
“The message is potently clear – no priest or pastor has the right to speak in favor of marriage equality,” said Joel Hollier, the director of Equal Voices, an LGBTQ Anglican group.
“Nor are they able to speak freely to the reality of parishioners experiencing gender dysphoria. Churches that suggest otherwise will face the consequences.”
The Sydney diocese of the Anglican Church spent AUD 1 million (around $700,000) on the “No” campaign in last year’s referendum on marriage equality.
“The new policy 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,” Bishop Michael Stead, who wrote the proposed policy, told Fairfax Media.
“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 wrote in a report that including “man-woman marriage” in an official church policy would be “prudent” in order to get a religious exemption to anti-discrimination law, so that the church can fire LGBTQ people.
“A key threat to maintaining the Christian ethos of our Anglican institutions is in relation to the employment of Christian staff,” he noted.