SEVEN Australian diocesan bishops have written to the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, to support the same-sex marriage legislation currently before the Australian Parliament. The legislation is expected to pass largely unamended before Christmas, despite conservative politicians’ attempts to include a range of exempted religious categories such as church schools, charities, and individual conscience.
Other Australian religious leaders, including the Primate, Dr Philip Freier, and the Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Glenn Davies, have supported moves to increase religious protections in the legislation.
The seven bishops state, however, that the current protections in the Bill for the clergy are a “fulsome” recognition of the “religious rights and freedoms that underpin a democratic, plural, and multicultural society”.
Four of the bishops are from regional dioceses in the province of Victoria, including the lead commentator, the Bishop of Wangaratta, the Rt Revd John Parkes. The others are the Rt Revd Kay Goldsworthy (Gippsland), the Rt Revd Andrew Curnow (Bendigo), and the Rt Revd Garry Weatherill (Ballarat). There is no representation from the diocese of Melbourne, where the Primate is the Archbishop.
The other three bishops who have signed the letter are the Rt Revd Bill Ray (North Queensland), the Rt Revd Sarah Macneil (Grafton) and the Rt Revd John Stead (Willochra).