Category Archives: News

Uniting Network Australia rejects calls for additional discrimination on LGBTIQ students and teachers

Uniting Network, the LGBTIQ network within the Uniting Church of Australia expresses its concern around the potential to allow religious schools to exclude LGBTIQ children from schools, under the guise of religious freedom or ongoing unnecessary religious privilege (SMH report 10 October 2018).

Uniting Network rejects the need for Federal Government action on discrimination of LGBTIQ children (and any person) within any education system. We call on State Governments to wind back discrimination measures already in place at the state level impacting LGBTIQ staff and students.

Children during their schooling (from primary and high school) come to understand their sexuality, sexual orientation and gender. To permit an already vulnerable young person to be thrown out of a religious school as they become aware of their identity is not in the best interest of children and is likely to add to the already unacceptably high rates of depression, self-harm and suicide of young LGBTIQ people.

Further, we express our concern that all schools should have some relationship to representing the broader Australian society. If religious schools are permitted to exclude LGBTIQ children from their schools, around one third of Australians will continue not to have any natural connection with LGBTIQ people, potentially ingraining homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in Australian society indefinitely.

We also see no rational or religious reason to discriminate against LGBTIQ staff in religious schools except in the limited case of school chaplains and teachers for the specific religious teaching. There is no justification for the exclusion of LGBTIQ teachers in core curriculum areas such as Maths, Science, English or support staff and school caretakers.

The breaking of this news comes at the same time as the Federal Government is seeking the Productivity Commission to review Mental Health programs in Australia, when the LGBTIQ people suffer a significantly higher rate of mental health issues, leading to dramatically higher self-harm and suicide rates than the general population. On the one hand, the Federal Government is seeking to improve mental health outcomes, and on the other proposes to implement policies that will continue to create mental health issues within the LGBTIQ community and in particular younger LGBTIQ people.

In our Christian context, Jesus gave two underpinning commandments, to Love God, and to Love One Another. This proposed action is providing religious, and in our context Christian schools, to disobey Jesus’ clear objective, as this form of discrimination shows that those schools will not love one another.

For further information contact:
Jason Masters on 0407780110 or info@unitingnetworkaustralia.org.au

Uniting Network Australia welcomes the decision of the 15th Assembly to allow the marriage of two people in the witness and life of its church

On Friday night 13th July, the National Assembly of the Uniting Church resolved to allow Ministers freedom to choose to conduct the weddings of any two people under a new definition of marriage which is to be held equally with the current definition of marriage and reflects the diversity of belief on this issue within the Uniting Church.

“Today I celebrate that the Uniting Church has a statement that affirms that marriage is for two people and there is now a place that myself and my LGBTIQ siblings can be married and have their existing marriages recognised as equal to that of others in our church.” says Hannah Reeve Co-convenor of the Uniting Church’s LGBTIQ and Ally Network.

Co-convenor Peter Weeks added, “As a Minister in the Uniting Church this now means not only can I marry my partner in the Church, but I can also legally celebrate the weddings of LGBTIQ couples who wish to have a Uniting Church wedding.”

Unfortunately, the Uniting Church was not ready to move to one inclusive statement on marriage which was the hope of Uniting Network members. We do however acknowledge that across the church there is a diversity of beliefs in regards to marriage and some parts of our church wish to hold their current understanding.

This is one step further towards full equality within our church and we will continue to advocate for LGBTIQ people, couples and rainbow families as we journey together.

Uniting Network Australia reminds members of the UCA and wider community that 3 years ago the 14th Assembly affirmed that the Uniting Church seeks to be an inclusive church that embraces LGBTIQ people as full members of our church community.

In her media release, the President of the Assembly Dr Deidre Palmer acknowledged the ministry and struggle of LGBTIQ people and how painful and difficult this conversation has been for LGBTIQ members of the church.

A proposal regarding setting up a consultative process to look at a formal apology from the UCA to the LGBTIQ community has been referred to the Assembly Standing Committee for consideration. Uniting Network will be urging the Standing Committee to support the three-year process leading to decisions at the 2021 Assembly.

For more information, see official Uniting Church links:

https://uniting.church/freedom-to-decide-on-marriage/

https://uniting.church/a-reflection-on-the-marriage-decision/

For further information contact us.

MEDIA RELEASE | Uniting Church LGBTIQ Network welcomes same-sex marriage postal survey result – and urges the Uniting Church to change its marriage policy

The Uniting Church’s LGBTIQ Network has welcomed the result of the postal survey concerning same-sex marriage.

“It is very pleasing to see that more than 60% of Australians voted to support same-sex marriage”, stated Uniting Network national secretary Warren Talbot.

“Although unnecessary, the postal survey confirmed that a significant majority of Australians support marriage equality for LGBTIQ Australians. Marriage is about love and commitment, not the sex or gender identity of the two people involved.”

Mr Talbot said that the Parliament should proceed, before Christmas, to amend the Marriage Act.

“Proposals to introduce new forms of discrimination against LGBTIQ people are completely unacceptable. The draft Bill from Senator Dean Smith provides adequate protection for religious freedom, in addition to those already included in anti-discrimination legislation.”

Mr Talbot said that it was now time for the Uniting Church to amend its policy on marriage.

“It is a plain denial of the Gospel that all LGBTIQ people are systematically denied access to one of the church’s major rituals, namely marriage. This policy sends a message of exclusion and rejection to LGBTIQ communities and others.

“Our Uniting Church already accepts openly LGBTIQ clergy, including those in committed same-sex relationships.

“There is an opportunity, at the Assembly meeting in 2018, to change the church’s policy and give substance to our stated aim of being truly inclusive.”

Mr Talbot suggested that quite a number of Uniting Church clergy will want to celebrate same-sex marriages whether the Assembly changes its policy or not.

“It might be a case of local congregations taking the lead, witnessing to the love and grace of God as we risk following the Way of Jesus.”

Warren Talbot – Secretary
Uniting Network Australia