Churches Win Right to Bar Gays as Foster Parents in Australia


Neither Australia's NSW government nor its opposition will oppose a court ruling allowing religious organizations to bar gays as foster parents, The Australian reports:

Uca In a decision that will open the way for other religious charities to refuse gay couples access to their services, the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal ruled that Wesley Mission's foster care arm, Wesley Dalmar Services, had proved an exemption under the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act allowing it to discriminate against homosexual couples, reported The Australian.

Wesley Mission, part of the Uniting Church assembly, argued that providing foster care services to gay couples would put at risk its financial and volunteer assistance from members of the mission who adhered to the doctrine that a monogamous heterosexual partnership was "the norm and ideal of the family".

Though the court said the ruling could deserve the government's attention, it isn't budging:

The Administrative Decisions Tribunal described the ability of a religious group to prove an exemption to the act as "singularly undemanding" and noted that "this may be a matter which calls for the attention of parliament".

However, a spokesman for NSW Attorney-General John Hatzistergos said yesterday that the legislation struck the right balance between protection from discrimination and the right to religious freedom.

"It is not envisaged that there will be changes to the current exemptions in relation to religious institutions," the spokesman said.

NSW Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell also ruled out yesterday any move to push for legislative change on the issue if the Liberals win government next March.

Churches are celebrating: "The ruling, made in the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal, has been hailed by the Catholic Church but has outraged civil libertarians, who are demanding religions no longer be exempt from anti-discrimination laws if they receive public money."


  1. True Words says

    It is time to BOYCOTT ALL gay events in Australia; they are gaining way too much ground in the wrong direction where LGBT rights are concerned.

  2. Tone says

    By all means boycott Oz. Come to Canada to vacation, where we don’t discriminate. Dress in layers though, it gets chilly October to March.

    Seriously, we should boycott Australia for this wrong-headed discrimination.

  3. pete N sfo says

    It sounds like the Court was in a bind and they’re asking for Legislative help… still, an awful result.

    Will the Khurch refuse all assistance to anyone not in a Monogamous Heterosexual Partnership???

    Doubtful, isn’t it. Once again, bigotry masquerades as religious belief. Enough.

  4. Tonez says

    Meh, I think this is more of a church and state (i know they don’t have states) issue. Why are the churches allowed to be in control of some adoptions? This is a prime example why they shouldnt be. They let their ideology decide, not their common sense. It painful to think of the children that are not being adopted because of this….

  5. Steve says

    The church has won the right to discriminate against gay people, even though the general law in AU is to prohibit such discrimination.

    The church has, in the past, received funds from the government for provision of foster services.

    If there is any justice, the government will request bids for the contract to provide those services for the new year. The new bidding will require each bidder to certify that they will not discriminate.

  6. chuck says

    So where are these children who need foster care coming from? I would guess heterosexuals. If these children need to be taken out of their homes because their natural parents are dangerous to them then why is putting them in a safe home with two loving adults not better? This is a perfect example of where mental constructs overrule true spiritual compassion. If they truly cared about the children they would only care about keeping them safe and loved. Instead they worship a book.

  7. Rowan says

    Australia has a really dark history. With what they did to aboriginal kids they took from there parents and put them in foster care with White Christians to the poor working class orphans from England sent down under as kids who were systematically abused by priests in the orphanages.

    Very mean people in that country, no sense of ethics, fairness or equality.

  8. Lazlo says

    Andrew W in response to your comment, you nailed it actually. There is a show called Farscape and the main villains on the show called The Peace Keepers are very much like Nazi’s. The consider themselves the superior race and their main colors for flags and stuff are black/red/white.

  9. Pyre says

    Wow. Just wow.

    Firstly, it’s difficult to boycott Australia for those of us who live here. That it would actually help affect change though is incredibly unlikely, since very little of our tourism is built around being gay-specific, and would help no one in the meantime.

    Australia doesn’t have a formal bill of rights in its constitution separating church and state, which is unfortunate, but is something that some of us have been trying to get changed. Because religions still have a lot of sway with our political leaders (a concept I’m sure you’re familiar with), this process is a very slow one.

    Lastly, in response to Rowan, EVERY country has a dark history, whether it be in abuse towards an indigenous population, slavery, civil wars, or other injustices. Australia is primarily a country of immigrants, which makes it at least as diverse as somewhere like the US terms of the kinds of people living there. Yes, there are some very mean people in this country, with no sense of ethics, fairness or equality. But to repeat myself, EVERY country has very mean people with no sense of ethics, fairness or equality. Welcome to the human race.

    Instead of simply hating on an entire country, perhaps you could offer some more productive suggestions towards changing these laws and rulings.

  10. walter says

    boy the church really does spend a lot of time and money doing unchristian like things. i hope they are prepared to pay for all this hate. gays sure as hell didn;t create all these foster children. but i thought sex outside marriage is a sin. religion teaches hate

  11. james says

    Ditto to Pyre
    In terms of access to Social Security, Health Insurance and other spouse entitlements as well as protection from discrimination and vilification Australia is miles ahead of the US for LGBT people.
    NSW recently changed the laws to allow gays and lesbians to adopt children. The holdout here is that religious organisations can apply for exemption from these laws on the basis of what they believe.
    Yes this sucks but LGBT couples can still take kids into foster care and adopt children just not from Christianist organisations.
    While I strongly disagree with this at least these organisations are not forcing their barbaric superstitions on me the way the religious right still is in the US

  12. Sami in Vancouver says

    Just be glad that New South Wales has the pro LGBT Australian Labor Party (ALP) in office.

    It would be such a shame if their opposition would get in, wouldn’t it? :-)

  13. Randy says

    So anti-discrimination laws in Australia apply, except when you’re actually being discriminated against. That’s some law you have there in Australia…

  14. Derek Pearce says

    This has High Court case written all over it. For the Aussies out there– would your High Court really allow this to continue if public monies are used for these services? I know in Canada and the UK, getting any public funding at all = zero discrimination allowed.

  15. Rob says

    Ouch. The sum of all the good and the bad that organized religion has done in the world comes out very strongly on the negative side of the ledger. And yet people pay this bizarre respect to religious organizations, in the US and elsewhere, as though they really are dealing with God himself. To the point where the institutionalized rape of children is largely overlooked. Wouldn’t any other organization doing that be entirely dismantled? Immediately? What a cruel irony that such a corrupt cartel issues moral prounouncements at all, let alone ones that continue to hurt children in other ways.

  16. wantonlooks says

    I think it is easy to say Australia this and bad government that. The truth is most Australians are sophisticated and forward thinking, but in so many ways, it has been left behind and I think from the time Liberals took over federally, Australia lost ground socially and culturally. This is not to excuse the Labor party, but it is another backward step into navel gazing and introspection. Gay people have human rights and this is yet another attack on the rights of gay people in NSW, and the wrenching back of rights. Will that country change, history says yes….will it change soon? Who knows. HOWEVER, we as Americans, have NO right to judge any other country when it comes to human rights and gay rights. Let’s clean up the crap in our own back yard before we start pointing fingers. Until then, I will be visiting Canada.

  17. james says

    Unfortuately Derek. That is exactly what happens. Religious organisations receive public funding to deliver Education, Health and other social services. Outside of Ireland no other English Speaking country relies so heavily on Churches to do this and yes they by and large are exempt from the various state and federal anti discrimination acts. A catholic school can fire a gay teacher if that teacher “promotes” homosexuality and Uniting Church organizations do not have to adopt out kids to gay couples. It sucks and I will do everything I can to change it but it is the odd sort of compromise Australian politicians seem to make all the time. Again I repeat I still enjoy better proctections that I would in most states in the US. It’s just that I don’t go near the churches and they don’t come near me

  18. says

    The countries redheads and left handed folks give a sigh of relief that they once again have dodged the radar of the churches hate and demonetization ….