About a year following Australia allowing for equal marriage, to the elation of the LGBTQI community and the wedding industry, like Caterers in Sydney, the Sydney Anglican Synod voted on October 22, Monday, to pass a policy that bans same-sex marriages, parties or events that adhere to what they consider as expressions of human sexuality that goes against to their doctrine of marriage on around one thousand of the church’s properties.
The policy will apply to any future leases to tenants on the church’s properties, parishes, church halls, Anglican schools, counselling services, nursing homes and Anglican corporations, as well as members of the boards of those bodies, with the church saying that they are to uphold a ‘Christian ethos’ that adheres to more traditional views of marriage and sexuality.
The policy was met with strong opposition from the LGBTQI community, the wedding industry, like Caterers in Sydney, and even from some people in the church itself. In response, its primary mover, Bishop Michael Stead, apologised to Indigenous Australians and to the LGBTQI community, the former for not consulting them on smoking ceremonies, and the latter for failing to state that their points of view and the LGBTQI community itself were still welcome in Anglican Sydney Churches.
Amendments made to the policy spell out that it does not prevent discussions and debates about contentious issues on the church’s properties.
Bishop Stead describes the bill as protection against being accused of, or sued for discrimination under anti-discrimination legislation in an increasingly non-traditional world; a shield to protect the church from claims of discrimination or from any other form of external pressure.
Several members of the synod opposed the bill, saying that the message of the bill was very negative, and that it could cause damage to the reputation of a church that they were worried was losing relevance.
The Reverend Daniel Dries from The Christ Church St. Laurence expresses fears of the Sydney Anglican Church was currently having an image crisis, which is inhibiting their ability to spread the word of God, which he believes will make the church utterly ineffective.
Other members of the Church agreed with Bishop Stead, while some protested, saying that the Wen worth by-election made it clear that Aussies were getting tired of divisiveness.