The Uniting Church in Australia’s key national governance body has recommended the church change its policy to allow same-sex marriages.
SBS has reported that the 18-member Assembly Standing Committee have endorsed an internal report recommending the church’s marriage policy statement be changed from being the union of “a man and a woman”, to between “two people”.
The change should be made, the report says, because “scientific research generally supports the view that people who are attracted to someone of the same gender were born that way.”
“This knowledge supports the view that same-gender sexual attraction can be understood as part of God’s good and diverse creation rather than unnatural,” the report states.
The report goes on to acknowledge the “the injustices which LGBTIQ people have suffered in society and in the church”.
“It is common knowledge that discrimination against people because of their sexual orientation has very damaging impacts on their health and wellbeing, including high rates of suicide,” it reads.
“If the church is committed to learning from Jesus about challenging the injustice of excluding people then it will seriously consider extending marriage to couples of the same gender.”
The proposal will be put to a vote by 265 of the church’s national decision-makers at the Uniting Church’s 15th Assembly triennial meeting in July.
Uniting Church in Australia president Stuart McMillan told SBS, “As you would expect, just as in the rest of the country, there is a wide range of views across the Uniting Church on marriage.
“We respect that people have a diversity of views that they come to from a range of different religious, cultural or personal perspectives.”
He said “authorised celebrants’ freedom of conscience to celebrate or not to celebrate these marriages will be protected” should the same-sex marriages be allowed.
If accepted, the Uniting Church would become the first major Christian denomination in Australia to accept same-sex marriage.
A proposal to endorse same-sex weddings was first brought to the 2015 Assembly meeting, but was delayed in favour of a three-year consultation process.
In March, around eighty members from the Uniting Network – a national network of LGBTI people and their supporters in the Uniting Church in Australia – marched in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.