7 May 2013

Church discriminates against gay people, bishop admits

4:16 pm on 7 May 2013

The Anglican Bishop of Auckland admits that the Church discriminates against gay and lesbian people.

The Human Rights Tribunal is considering whether Geno Sisneros, who is in a same-sex relationship, was discriminated against when his application to train as a priest was turned down.

Bishop Ross Bay says he warned Mr Sisneros against further training, because an understanding between bishops meant that gay people in same-sex relationships would not be ordained until the Anglican Church decided its stance on the issue.

The bishop admitted under questioning on Tuesday that this was discrimination, but said that other groups may also feel discriminated against by some of the Church's rules.

Bishop Bay said he interviewed Mr Sisneros about his plans, but advised him not to participate in further training as it would only lead to a dead end.

He said he is open to change, and if the Church's rules change he would proceed with training homosexual people.

Bishop Bay said he would continue to re-license gay and lesbian priests working in Auckland until the Church decides its stance.

The Archbishop, Philip Richardson, told the tribunal that Bishop Bay was right in warning Mr Sisneros against pursuing training, as all bishops who see an impediment in a person becoming a priest have an ethical requirement to make it clear to the person.

He said the argument that same-sex relationships aren't explicitly forbidden in Church rules is an unsustainable one, as the rules do stipulate that the only approved relationship is a Christian marriage involving a man and woman.

The Archbishop did, however, say it is very important that discussion on the issue continues to ensure that the Anglican Church does not say no to people that God is calling.