The Sydney Anglican church has responded to criticism over a proposed policy that will ban same-sex weddings and the promotion of “transgender ideology” on church property.
Sydney's Anglican church is reportedly set to debate a policy which would prohibit buildings owned by the diocese, including schools, from hosting same-sex wedding ceremonies and receptions.
According to documents seen by Fairfax, the policy specifies that it would be inappropriate for the property of the church to be used to advocate “expressions of human sexuality contrary to our doctrine of marriage” and “transgender ideology (e.g gender-fluidity)”.
The documents also state that the church sees the debate around the ability of schools to fire gay teachers as a "key threat".
Chair of the diocese's Religious Freedom Reference Group, Bishop Michael Stead, said the policy on the use of church property by outside parties "consolidates and codifies" what has always been the practice.
"The principle is simple - churches should not be compelled to use their property for purposes contrary to their doctrine," he told SBS News.
"Although the policy covers many other things, no-one would be surprised at our position on same-sex marriage which has been stated repeatedly.
"Along with almost 40 per cent of the Australian population, we maintain the historic position that marriage is between a man and a woman and we also maintain that freedom of religion in Australia should allow us to use our property in accordance with this belief."
News of the policy proposal to be debated next week has prompted backlash from LGBTIQ Christian group Equal Voices, who are encouraging followers to express their concerns over its potential impacts.
The church crackdown was a "silencing act" designed to quell dissenting voices, said Joel Hollier, a gay Anglican and former pastor who co-chairs Equal Voices.
"The message is potently clear - no priest or pastor has the right to speak in favour of marriage equality," he told Fairfax.
"Nor are they able to speak freely to the reality of parishioners experiencing gender dysphoria. Churches that suggest otherwise will face the consequences."
The Anglican Diocese of Sydney donated $1 million to the failed ‘No’ campaign during the lead-up to the same-sex marriage postal survey.
At the time, the Archbishop of Sydney Glenn Davies said the donation came “at a critical moment” to allow the ‘No’ campaign to raise awareness “of the consequences of same-sex marriage for freedom of speech and freedom of religion”.
The report comes as the government refused to back down on releasing a controversial review into religious freedoms despite strong Senate pressure.
Mathias Cormann, the government's Senate leader, said on Wednesday that a response to the report was yet to be considered by cabinet and the government would release it in "due course".
He said it was in the public interest for the full review, led by former Liberal minister Philip Ruddock, not to be released despite all 20 recommendations already being leaked to the media.