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Australian Synod motion praising same-sex marriage falls, but gets nearly two-fifths of vote

20 May 2022


Rainbows painted in support of same-sex marriage in Melbourne, Australia

Rainbows painted in support of same-sex marriage in Melbourne, Australia

A MOTION praising same-sex marriage as “a moral good and a gift to be celebrated” attracted an unexpected level of support in the Anglican Church of Australia’s General Synod, despite not being carried.

The motion, proposed by the Adelaide theologian Matthew Anstey, an Associate Professor of Charles Sturt University, was lost by 145 votes to 95. Professor Anstey has commented that, despite this, the level of support, nearly 40 per cent, for same-sex marriage was “profoundly significant”. It was the first time that a motion affirming same-sex marriage had come to the Synod, he said.

In moving the motion, he said that he fully expected the motion to be lost, but brought it because he wanted to “honour all those who belong to LGBTIQA+ communities, and their allies and their families, who long to hear words of affirmation, acceptance, and welcome”.

He also brought it because he feared that “the window of opportunity for dialogue about this issue might be closing.” His overriding reason, however, was that he was “passionate about doing all we can to make the Anglican Church of Australia a community that is affirming, inclusive, comprehensive, and open-hearted”.

The motion was seconded by a Melbourne representative, Professor Peter Sherlock, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Divinity, who told the Synod that he had been in a same-sex relationship for 29 years. He had married his partner in 2018, after the legalisation of same-sex marriage in Australia in 2017.

In an emotional speech, Professor Sherlock told the Synod that it had not been easy “to be around Anglicans who threaten you with mortal or supernatural injury, who insist that you hide your relationship, who plain ignore you, or who ask quite frankly bizarre questions about sex. A tragic feature of our debates about marriage is that one side talks about love, and the other about sex.”

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