Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan M.

February 17, 2015

"Catholic church sacks woman for being too 'polyamorous' "

The Australian Financial Review, Sydney Morning Herald

In Australia, a judge rules that being poly is a "behavior," not an orientation, and says that to rule otherwise would be a slippery slope to extending orientational protections to anything. The plaintiff is seeking redress after being fired from her position at a Catholic social-services agency, after they found her on the Brisbane Poly People meetup group's list of poly-friendly counselors and on its membership list.

Catholic church sacks woman for being too 'polyamorous'

The court found being polyamorous was "sexual behaviour" and not sexual orientation.

By Marianna Papadakis

A woman has lost a bid for compensation after she was sacked by a Catholic Church social services organisation for having too many sexual partners.

The woman filed the lawsuit against Brisbane-based Centacare last October claiming she was sexually discriminated against, as well as accusing the centre of breach of contract.

The woman was sacked for gross misconduct and bringing the centre into disrepute in August, 2013 after being told her "polyamorous" lifestyle was against the ethics and moral teachings of the Catholic Church.

Polyamory is defined as having multiple sexual relationships or partners at the same time, with the consent of all people involved.

The woman worked at the centre from August, 2007, and had been promoted to the role of clinical practice co-ordinator in its family support division in 2009.

The centre discovered the woman's lifestyle when her contact details as a "poly-friendly" counsellor were published on a website for the Brisbane Poly Group, a site for people involved or interested in varied alternatives to monogamy.

The woman was confronted by her managers on August 5, 2013 with questions as to why her name was at the bottom of a printed list of the group's members and whether she attended for professional or personal reasons, according to the judgment by Judge Salvatore Vasta of the Federal Circuit Court on February 11.

The co-ordinator initially lodged a complaint with the Australian Human Rights Commission, alleging discrimination because of her sexual orientation.

But after her claim was dismissed by an AHRC delegate, she took her legal battle to court adding she should have been given 12 months rather than five weeks of notice, that there was no valid reason to sack her and she was not afforded procedural fairness in the termination process.

Justice Salvatore Vasta dismissed the co-ordinator's appeal on the basis it had no reasonable prospects of success. He found being polyamorous was "sexual behaviour" and not sexual orientation, which involved something far more than how one behaved sexually.

"Sexual orientation is how one is, rather than how one manifests that state of being. The manifestation of that state of being can take many forms," Justice Vasta said.

He rejected the woman's argument that "sexual behaviour" was a subset of sexually orientation saying it could lead to absurd results.

"If the contention of the applicant were correct, many people whose sexual activity might label them as sado-masochists, coprophiliacs or urophiliacs could claim that such is more than mere behaviour; it is in fact their very sexual orientation," Justice Vasta said.

"If the contention were correct, then the illegal activities of paedophilia and necrophilia may have the protection of the Sex Discrimination Act 1984."

Justice Vasta also said while he lacked jurisdiction to determine the woman's claim concerning reasonable notice, it did not give him any pleasure to rule this way.

No matter what the merits or the probability of success on the substantive claim, she should be allowed to at least ventilate her grievance, he said.

The Australian Financial Review

Here's the original (Feb. 17, 2015). The article is reprinted in today's Sydney Morning Herald and perhaps elsewhere.

Another article, in Brisbane's Courier-Post, identifies the woman as Susan Bunning. It concludes with, "Judge Vasta said Ms Bunning would have to take her common law claim over alleged unreasonable notice of dismissal to the District or Magistrates Court."

Anyone here know what happens next?

I bet we haven't heard the last of this.

(Update: Dan Savage weighs in again on the poly orientation-or-choice question: Australian Judge: Polyamory Not a Sexual Orientation, Feb. 23, 2015.)


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Blogger SnaLkr said...

Sadly, being anything but a monogamous partner in a "regular" marriage IS against the rules of the "Holy Roman Catholic Church," whatever that is. (Holy Romam? REALLY??!? Yet is seems diddling young boys is perfectly acceptable. The HRCC has never been known for its "reasonableness," and will eventually fade away. Preferably soon.

February 17, 2015 3:42 AM  
Anonymous Kenneth R Haslam MD said...

Ann Tweedy addressed this problem of polyamory as a sexual orientation:

Polyamory as a Sexual Orientation

Ann E. Tweedy
Hamline University School of Law

June 29, 2010

University of Cincinnati Law Review, Vol. 79, p. 1461, 2011

This Article examines, from a theoretical standpoint, the possibility of expanding the definition of “sexual orientation” in employment discrimination statutes to include other disfavored sexual preferences, specifically polyamory. First, it examines the current, very narrow definition of sexual orientation, which is limited to orientations that are based on the sex of those to whom one is attracted, and explores some of the conceptual and functional problems with the current definition. Next the Article looks at the possibility of adding polyamory to current statutory definitions of sexual orientation, examining whether polyamory is a sufficiently embedded identity to be considered a sexual orientation and the degree of discrimination that polyamorists face. After concluding that such an expansion would be reasonable, the Article briefly outlines some issues for further investigation, including potential policy implications and the conflicting evidence as to whether polyamorists want specific legal protections.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 55

Keywords: Sexual Orientation, Polyamory, Sexuality, Anti-Discrimination Law, Employment Discrimination, Identity, Queer Theory, Fluidity, Bisexuality, Lesbianism, Homosexuality, Equal Protection, Bill of Rights, Liberty, Marriage, Polygamy, Monogamy, Non-monogamy, Relationships, Feminism, Women and the Law

JEL Classifications: J70, J71, J78, J79

Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: June 30, 2010 ; Last revised: August 29, 2011
Suggested Citation
Tweedy, Ann E., Polyamory as a Sexual Orientation (June 29, 2010). University of Cincinnati Law Review, Vol. 79, p. 1461, 2011. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1632653

February 17, 2015 10:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a shame. Religion is just there to supress our ability to love on multiple levels. I have been poly for quite some time and found it freeing. I find the best place to find others like this is www.polypartner.com

February 18, 2015 9:04 AM  

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