8 May 2013

Church can't use Bill of Rights to discriminate - lawyer

9:25 pm on 8 May 2013

A lawyer has told the Human Rights Tribunal the Anglican Church can't use the Bill of Rights to discriminate against a man whose attempts to become a priest were thwarted as he is in a same-sex relationship.

Geno Sisneros says he was sidelined by the Church when he wanted to apply to become a priest.

In closing submissions David Ryken, who is representing the plaintiff, told the tribunal in Auckland on Wednesday that the Church allows gay and lesbian clergy who are in relationships to continue as priests.

"It seems that although the Anglican Church no longer prohibits gay and lesbian clergy in practice, the current leaders have chosen to prohibit them from ordination, or entry into the pre-ordination course."

Mr Ryken said the Church seems to have not considered whether the discrimination is lawful and the freedom of religion provisions of the Bill of Rights does not allow it to break the law.

Mr Sisneros says he was never told while completing theological studies at university that he would not be eligible to train as a priest.