All members of religious groups deserve the right to not participate in same-sex marriage ceremonies if they hold a traditional view of marriage, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) said in a submission released last week.
The Select Committee on Same-Sex Marriage is expected to report on February 13.
“Changing the definition of marriage would have an impact on all the members of the Catholic Church, but perhaps the most significant impact would be on ordinary parishioners trying to live their Catholic faith in their daily lives,” said Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP, chair of the ACBC’s Commission for Family, Youth and Life.
“So while the ACBC appreciates the basic protections offered, it must acknowledge that there are no protections offered for the vast majority of the faithful who wish to continue to practise their beliefs.
“People should be free to decline to endorse by participation, activities or ceremonies that are contrary to their beliefs. For example, people may decline to involve their businesses in activities that they consider may be harmful to the community or which may be harmful to the environment.
Likewise, in the case of same-sex marriage, people with a conscientious objection should be free to decline to be involved, including where their business is approached to provide services.
“The point at issue when services are declined is not the sexual orientation of the person involved."