A representative of Australia's Catholic Church has said that the organisation could fire gay employees (including nurses and teachers) who get married if same-sex marriage is finally brought to the country.
Denis Hart, Archbishop of Melbourne and the Church's most senior figure in Australia, made the somewhat startling threat in an interview with Fairfax Media
. Hart said that the Church's employees were expected to respect teachings and policy "totally", with any disobedience taken "very seriously".
"I would be very emphatic that our schools, our parishes exist to teach a Catholic view of marriage," he said. "Any words or actions which work contrary to that would be viewed very seriously.
"Our teachers, our parish employees are expected totally to uphold the Catholic faith and what we believe about marriage."
He continued: "People have to see in words and in example that our teaching of marriage is underlined. We shouldn't be slipping on that."
However, he went on to suggest that matters of employment "are best dealt with on the local scene".
With specific reference to teaching in Catholic schools, Hart said that gay teachers who openly support equal marriage in the workplace would be 'undermining' the Church's teachings. "In accepting a role in a Catholic school, staff will recognise their responsibility to conduct themselves in such a way as not to undermine the fundamental ethos of the school," he said.
"Like all other employers, the Catholic Church should be able to ensure its values are upheld by those who choose to work for the organisation."
Politicians in Australia's Senate have repeatedly shot down attempts to hold a referendum on equal marriage. In 2016, the Liberal Party was re-elected with a promise that they would let voters decide on same-sex marriage through a popular vote. However, the vote was blocked, and the result could have technically been ignored by lawmakers anyway. The government is now planning to hold a plebiscite to gauge public opinion on the issue.
The government is now planning to hold a plebiscite to gauge public opinion on the issue. The results of the plebiscite, which asks citizens to mail in their responses to a particular issue, will not be legally-binding. It will merely act as a survey of attitudes towards same-sex marriage in the country.
Earlier this week a group of religious figures in Australia formed a 'Coalition for Marriage' in an attempt to prevent the legalisation of equal marriage in the upcoming ballot. Internet users quickly pointed out that the organisation's logo bears a striking resemblance
to the bisexual Pride flag.
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