No right to ordination, tribunal rules: The Church of England Newspaper, October 25, 2013 October 25, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Diocese of Auckland, Eugene Sisneros, New Zealand Human Rights Tribunal, Ross Bay
The Anglican Church of New Zealand is exempt from laws banning discrimination against homosexuals, the Human Rights Review Tribunal ruled last week.
On 18 October 2013 the tribunal ruled the Bishop of Auckland, the Rt. Rev. Ross Bay, had not violated the country’s Human Rights laws by refusing to allow Eugene Sisneros to begin the ordination process.
Bishop Bay had declined to permit Mr. Sisneros from entering the process because he was in a same-sex partnership, and as such, did not meet the church’s requirement that aspirants be chaste.
Mr. Sisneros, a lay employee of St. Matthews-in-the-City in Auckland, responded by filing a complaint stating he “felt totally humiliated that I had spent six years of my life in study, for a process that I was not permitted to enter because I was a gay man and in a relationship.”
New Zealand’s Human Rights Act 1993 forbids discrimination in employment on the grounds of sexual orientation. However Part 2 Section 28 of the Act permits “exceptions for purposes of religion” and allows “different treatment based on religious or ethical belief” by churches in the employment of clergy.
In its decision, the tribunal held the church did not breach the Human Rights Act because it was complying with its own exceptions, and its denial of Mr. Sisnernos’ candidacy was allowed under Section 28 of the Act. “The Human Rights Act 1993 allows exceptions to some discrimination laws, including where organised religions are following their doctrine.”
“The Tribunal is not asked to deliberate on what the rules, doctrines or established customs within the Anglican Church are, or ought to be,” it held.
Bishop Bay welcomed the ruling, telling Radio New Zealand the decision balanced individual human rights with the autonomous nature of the Church, in a way that ensures freedom of religion.
Mr. Sisneros has a right to appeal the ruling.