THE Australian Primate, Dr Philip Freier, has written to the
Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, and the leader of the
Federal Opposition, Bill Shorten, seeking an assurance that clergy
consciences will be protected in any legislation that permits
In the wake of the Irish referendum results, Mr Shorten has
brought a private member's Bill to the Federal Parliament to amend
the Australian Marriage Act to permit marriage between "two
people", not just a man and a woman, as the Act currently
The Bill is unlikely to be successful, given that the Abbott
coalition government is not supportive, saying that any such move
must be bipartisan, and that the time is not right. Mr Abbott
opposes same-sex marriage.
In his letter, Dr Freier has asked that ministers of religion
should not be required to marry same-sex couples - a provision
already included in Mr Shorten's Bill.
Dr Freier said that Anglican church order permitted marriage as
the union of a man and a woman only, and many clergy would consider
this a matter of principle.
"Should changes to the Marriage Act be legislated, I urge on
behalf of the Anglican Church that there be provision made for
decisions of conscience," Dr Freier said. Ministers of religion
"must have the right to refuse to solemnise a marriage, if in doing
so that would contravene his or her religious beliefs".
He said that "the Anglican Church of Australia abhors homophobia
in any form."