Over the past two weeks, this Bill has been debated in the Victorian Parliament; and in churches and the community. The Bill was introduced to address what has been widely recognised as the harm that often comes in the wake of practices aimed at changing or suppressing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
A wide range of perspectives have been expressed, coming from deeply held convictions and beliefs, touching into what are difficult conversations for many people of faith. The debate has also triggered painful memories for faithful Christian people who have first-hand experience of the harm that some of these practices have wrought in their lives and in those of their families and loved ones. Some live with the ongoing and deep impact of this harm.
The Uniting Church supports the intention of the legislation to protect vulnerable people from the harm of coercive practices.
The Uniting Church affirms that all people are made in the image of God, as beloved children of God, and that God’s inclusive grace and love extends to all. God’s gifts for leadership are not restricted by sexual orientation or gender identity, and are welcomed in the life of the Church.
The Uniting Church acknowledges there are diverse views on matters of sexuality. It also affirms that living together with difference in peace and with mutual respect for each other as the Body of Christ, is both our calling and a gift which Christ offers to the world.
The Church continues to work with the office of the Attorney General and the Department of Justice towards the goals of the legislation to prevent harm to all those God loves. We welcome the inclusion in the proposed legislation of a review after two years, to look at how the legislation might be addressing its intended goals, including how any unforeseen or unintended consequences of the legislation might be addressed.
In all things, we pray that we might be:
communities of reconciliation, humility and love,
a source of blessing, hope and compassion, and
places of welcome, generous hospitality and flourishing life to all, without exception.
Rev Denise Liersch