Even if they receive taxpayer dollars, religious groups in Australia’s New South Wales can keep their anti-gay discrimination policies, a government review agency just decided. Which means it’s about time everyone who hates the gays but wants their tax dollars starts calling themselves a “church.”
The NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal sided with religious freedom over government mandate that federal and state funds not be used in the act of making gays second-class. Guess who’s celebrating?
The ruling, made in the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal, has been hailed by the Catholic Church but has outraged civil libertarians, who are demanding religions no longer be exempt from anti-discrimination laws if they receive public money. The Council of Civil Liberties suggested more children might end up in orphanages because church-based service providers could now knock back couples who did not conform to their beliefs. … Cardinal George Pell [pictured] welcomed the decision and said churches must be able to choose who they wanted to use in the provision of services.
But the tribunal said in its report that the exiting exemption clauses for religious institutions, on which it based its decision, might best be revised by lawmakers who can pass new bills narrowing the wiggle room of church-led groups. The case, which has been seven years in the making, began when a gay couple were blocked from becoming foster parents by the Wesley Mission Australia, a Methodist-affiliated Uniting Church charity. But even the church acknowledges the ruling isn’t the final say on the matter, and is destined to split the congregation: “From the liberal point of view, there will be parts of the church that will be disappointed with this decision,” says a spokesman. “Generally though, the more conservative side of the church will be happy with the decision.”