Victorian activists are insisting that Christians should be banned from renting council facilities for worship services because their views on homosexuality are at odds with council LGBTQIA+ action plans.
Ratepayers Victoria Boss Dean Hurlston told the Herald Sun that his local council should be “ashamed” over its decision to continue renting a council owned building to an Anglican church that believed homosexuality was a sin.
The City of Stonnington reviewed its agreement with City on a Hill church after the congregation hit the news last year when its chairman Andrew Thorburn was forced to resign as CEO of the Essendon Football Club because of links to the church.
The church came under fire from Victoria Premier Dan Andrews for its orthodox Christian teaching on sexuality and abortion. Andrews described the church’s views supporting traditional marriage and the sanctity of life as “appalling” and “hateful”.
The council decided there was no reason “at this stage” to cancel the church’s weekly use of the Phoenix Park community centre in Malvern East where it holds Sunday services.
But Hurlston said the decision was hypocritical because the council had promised to promote “engagement, support, advocacy and partnerships for our LGBTQIA+ community”.
Hurlston said the church’s weekly services in a council owned building provided a test of the council’s LGBTQ policy but rather than enforce their policy they had “run for the hills”.
The Stonnington Council signed a Local Government Rainbow Pledge in 2021 promising to fly the gay flag, create an LGBTIQA advisory committee, create an LGBTIQA action plan and participate in the annual LBGTIQA festival Midsumma.
“Council shouldn’t spend all its time and money on these policies if they are not going through with them,” Hurlston said.
A council spokesperson said Stonnington was committed to creating “an inclusive and healthy community” for all.
“(It) acknowledges the need to ensure ongoing development in all of its policies, processes and plans.
“Based on our review to date, Council has determined that under the current conditions of use no action will be taken in relation to City on a Hill’s use of Phoenix Park Community Centre at this stage.
“Council is committed to working with the community and stakeholders to develop its LGBTQIA+ Action Plan and how it will create an environment of respect and better outcomes for everyone.’’