A CATHOLIC school has been ordered to accept the daughter of a same-sex couple after the Church intervened.
Acting Bishop for the Wilcannia/Forbes diocese Kevin Manning said he was appalled by a decision taken by the Sacred Heart Primary School at Broken Hill to refuse a girl a kindergarten place on the basis of her parents' relationship.
Bishop Manning told ABC radio the school has now offered the girl a place following his intervention.
He says the refusal came about because of a misunderstanding on the part of the school principal and parish priest as to the church's position on the issue.
The refusal came on the same day that Federal Minister Penny Wong and her partner Sophie Allouache celebrated the birth of their daughter Alexandra.
The case had outraged gay and lesbian groups and prompted calls for intervention by the NSW Government to force the Catholic Education Office to allow the girl’s enrolment at the Broken Hill school.
But in a demonstration of the challenges which same-sex parents and their children still face, the school’s decision to discriminate was not illegal, as churches are exempt from prosecution for breaches of the Anti-Discrimination Act.
One of the mothers told the ABC the principal had phoned her and said the women's relationship and living situation was the reason the application had been turned down.
Trevor Rynne, principal of the Sacred Heart school, yesterday confirmed the girl had been rejected because of her parents' relationship but declined to comment further.
"It's a breach of the Anti-Discrimination Act, there's no question about it. But a religious school is probably exempt from that breach," said Stepan Kerkyasharian, president of the NSW Anti-Discrimination board.
NSW Greens MLC John Kaye described the school’s actions as offensive and indefensible. He said the school received 85 per cent of its funding from the State Government and as such should not be able to discriminate.