• Thu
  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 3:12pm
NewsHong Kong
HUMAN RIGHTS

Gay teachers banned from International Christian School in Sha Tin

'Morality job contract' draws criticism, including from Anglican Church, for discriminatory stance

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 March, 2014, 4:46am
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 March, 2014, 11:32am

A Christian school has imposed a ban on gay teachers under a controversial "morality contract", drawing criticism from activists and from a senior Anglican churchman.

The International Christian School in Sha Tin, which has about 1,200 pupils, requires existing staff and job applicants to sign a contract that makes having a gay relationship or living with someone of the same sex outside marriage a sackable offence.

The school says it wants to employ "good Christian role models for our students".

Gay groups have criticised the rules, while the Equal Opportunities Commission says it wants local laws expanded to cover discrimination on the grounds of sexuality.

The Reverend Peter Douglas Koon, provincial secretary general for the Anglican Church in Hong Kong, said: "We don't support this policy because it is discrimination. Our Anglican schools [in Hong Kong] would not apply the same rules.

"You cannot assume gay people will promote homosexuality [to pupils]. A teacher should be judged on their professionalism. There are doctors and lawyers and people in many professions who are openly gay. If a judge is gay, we cannot say they would not be a good judge."

Teachers applying for jobs at the school, where fees range from HK$95,200 to HK$129,300 per annum, must agree to guidelines saying in part that they will be above reproach in areas of "sexual orientation and behaviour, marital and parental relationships". Any contraventions, the guidelines state, are grounds for dismissal.

The ICS administration and recruitment co-ordinator Sandy Burnett said in an e-mail to a recent applicant that the rules meant the school did not condone "same-sex relationships, extramarital relationships [or] couples of opposite sex living together outside of marriage".

Burnett added: "We are a Christian school. On our website it's very plain what our mission and vision is. It's on our application form so it's very obvious what our belief system is … We have a right to our beliefs."

Headmaster John Nelson declined to comment.

Michael Morrill, a US teacher at a primary school who won the Mr Gay Hong Kong contest last year, said he had lost teaching jobs in the past because of his sexuality. The school's morality code "isn't surprising at all".

"It is alarming the grounds on which schools can practise this discrimination," he said. "There needs to be a change in the law. There definitely needs to be protection from the government so the International Christian School doesn't get away with what it is doing."

Betty Grisoni, co-founder of Les Peches, the city's largest lesbian organisation, said: "Many of our members are teachers and sadly many have to keep their sexual orientation hidden from their employers in fear of repercussions on their employment."

The ICS ban on gay teachers is a breach of government guidelines against job discrimination - but legislating against it is likely to draw opposition from religious and conservative quarters.

The government says in its Code of Practice against Discrimination in Employment on the Ground of Sexual Orientation that denying people jobs on the basis of their sexual orientation is "morally wrong and irrational". The code, however, is only voluntary and not legally enforceable.

The commission said it would explore discrimination and "tackle this issue, including legislating against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity".

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27

This article is now closed to comments

Ben
I thought society had progressed further than this... Embarrassing really that a school can do this, let alone have people agree to it.
asiaseen
Yet another outstanding example of christian love and tolerance. I'd bet that if I were an employer and refused to employ any of these people on the grounds that they are christian, they would be instantly screaming discrimination.
sipsip1238
To have something called the word of their God, there must be a "God" in the first place.
And even if there is a God, the bible itself is merely recounts by various people who have met this God, how can we be sure that these "recounts" don't have the authors own prejudice mixed into it?
It is sad that educated people like aplucky1 have the fortune to be educated, but doesn't have the initiative to actually go beyond what they are taught and seek a bit more information. He/She personifies the saying "a little knowledge can be dangerous" it is just good that they have just learnt about religion and not how to build nuclear reactors.
Christianity have done a lot, but please do not forget it is also believers in the same "God" that caused many wars and millions of deaths, which is a sin I honestly don't think just saying "I believe in God" should be enough to redeem you.
aplucky1
if the gay community is so important then why not build a gay only school?
go ahead
nobody will complain
instead you try to jam your lifestyle down everyone elses throat
rawlie
Wow... I bet you've written that post without the slightest inkling of the irony inherent. Let's replace the word 'gay' with the word 'christian', shall we?
"if the CHRISTIAN community is so important then why not build a CHRISTIAN only school?
go ahead
nobody will complain
instead you try to jam your lifestyle down everyone else's throat"
These Christian schools have been, 'jamming their lifestyle down everyone else's throat' since at least 1851; St. Paul's College being one of the first, I do believe! Anyway, I guess 'tolerance' has never been a virtue... certainly not in the ranks of the' cloud people believers'.
OC2S
Well all that is fine however in the schools eyes homosexuals are sinners and accordingly not welcome in the teaching of their students. I don't think they are saying anything negative about a homosexuals teaching ability or their ability to create a loving and positive environment rather this is simply a binary point of principle for them. At one level they are probably doing any prospective homosexual teachers a favour by not putting them in a situation where they have to stand in front of a class and promote the schools ideas that 'homosexuality is a sin'. I'm not a Christian but understand that this is the word of their God
ntmount
I'm not surprised. I wonder what the EOC will have to say about this. Reverend Koon is spot on. What next? Do we ban teachers from drinking alcohol in their private life? Utter, embarrassing nonsense, in a liberal society like HK.
14u2nv
@aplucky1.
"it is their school, they can let in anyone they want"
Can they exclude black people? Is that OK with you?
People don't choose to be gay.
Know this, of the 1200 pupils at that school, some are or will be gay...it's just the way things are.
Should they be expelled immediately if they 'come out'?
Or maybe they should be stoned to death? (what does your little 'book' say?).
parispam
Sexual orientation has nothing to do with the capability of being a teacher or any profession that he or she would like to pursue! Love is love. With love, we cultivate peace. If a teacher is pursuing a peaceful and loving life outside the school, I am sure this teacher will at least promote peace and love amongst students. Isn't this wonderful? I would much rather have students being taught by peaceful and loving teachers than the ones living the part of what our social norms determine and are angry. I believe that kids that grew up in loving families with same sex partners would be healthier for our future society than the ones grew up in hostile, frustrated or loveless families.
aplucky1
it is their school, they can let in anyone they want
if you want you can build a GAY ONLY SCHOOL, believe me nobody will complain
but you are weak and a keyboard tough guy
i guarantee these Christians do more good for society than you will do in a thousand lifetimes

keep your mouth shut

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