Church free to ban homosexual foster parents
This is a big improvement on Britain, where the verdict went the other way. The picture below is of Cardinal Pell outside St. Mary's cathedral. It appeared with the story below but the court case actually involved a Protestant organization. Apparently His Eminence makes a better demon
CHURCH groups are free to discriminate against homosexuals after a landmark judgment in which a tribunal ruled religious charities are allowed to ban gay foster parents.
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, reported The Daily Telegraph.
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.
Even the tribunal itself, whose judgment came down in favour of the ban, said it was effectively bound to reach the decision because of the very broad exemptions in the Anti-Discrimination Act relating to religious groups. And, it went as far as suggesting that Parliament may wish to revise those laws.
The decision marks the end of a seven-year legal battle for a gay couple who attempted to become foster carers through Wesley Mission Australia but were knocked back because their lifestyle was not in keeping with the beliefs and values of Wesleyanism, a Methodist order of the Uniting Church.
The ADT initially awarded the couple $10,000 and ordered the charity to change its practices so it did not discriminate but an appeals panel set aside that decision and ordered the tribunal to reconsider the matter.
The tribunal then said it had little choice but to find that the discrimination was "in conformity" with the church's doctrine because the test in the law "is singularly undemanding".
Council of Civil Liberties president Cameron Murphy said churches who received taxpayers money to provide services for the state -as was increasingly the case -should no longer be exempt from discrimination laws. "It's outrageous," he said. "If a non-religious organisation tried to do this they would be in breach of the law.
"If they want to run a foster care agency they ought to be looking after the best interests of the child, not trying to push their religion on the community.
Cardinal George Pell welcomed the decision and said churches must be able to choose who they wanted to use in the provision of services.
Greens MLC Cate Faehrmann said it was high time groups were no longer able to discriminate for religious reasons.
A spokesman for Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell said if the matter came before Parliament the Liberal Party would allow a conscience vote.