With the UK government on track to push through same sex[***] marriage legislation, the Catholic Church has warned that teachers entering what it calls “non-chaste” relationships outside of Church-sanctioned marriage face the sack.
The guidance - contained in Christ at the Centre: Why the Church provides Catholic Schools - also says that teachers in Catholic schools should not enter civil ceremonies (such as civil partnerships) that do not meet the Catholic Church’s approval.
In the booklet the General Secretary of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, Monsignor Marcus Stock, claims that key staff members and governors cannot perform their roles if they make "substantive life choices" that are incompatible with church teaching. These would include same-sex[***] civil partnerships.
It is unlawful to discriminate against employees or prospective employees on the basis of their sexuality.
The Department for Education says that faith schools are allowed to consider whether a person’s conduct is in line with their religious values when dismissing teachers, but warns: "Schools must also comply with employment law.”
But the booklet warns that senior teachers in “a partnership of intimacy with another person, outside a form of marriage approved by the church…can be removed from office.”
A spokeswoman for the Catholic Church told the Daily Telegraph: "This isn’t about checking up on people. It is informing people called to leadership positions in Catholic schools that these are the expectations of someone in a senior role."
Back in 2007, shortly after civil partnerships were first introduced in the UK, the Catholic Church suffered a defeat when lawyers made it clear that it could not dismiss a primary school headteacher who had entered into a civil partnership.