Australia's Christian groups fear discrimination over opposition to same-sex marriage

Christian groups in Australia have expressed fear of discrimination if they oppose same-sex marriage and choose not to give services and products for same-sex ceremonies.

(REUTERS / David Gray)A gay-rights activist holds a banner during a rally supporting same-sex marriage in Sydney, Australia May 31, 2015.

Citing situations in other countries in which Christian businesses were sued or prosecuted for not providing services for same-sex ceremonies, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference said redefining what marriage means will affect the majority of all their church members. The conference emphasized the effect of this change will be on "ordinary parishioners trying to live their Catholic faith in their daily lives," the Herald Sun detailed.

"In the face of growing intolerance of religious or other conscientious beliefs ... it is very likely that people of faith will suffer discrimination and vilification of various kinds for holding fast to the traditional understanding of marriage," the ACBC said.

The Catholic submission explained that the issue is not all about the refusal to provide certain services to a customer because of one's sexual orientation. Rather, the issue is about the disagreement with same-sex marriage and the endorsement of this belief by providing services connected with this ceremony.

"If marriage were so redefined (in Australia) it would expose people and organisations to the risk of complaints under state and territory anti-discrimination laws if they express their view of marriage," the ACBC added.

Meanwhile, the Senate said no to the Turnbull government's proposal to hold a plebiscite on the introduction of same-sex marriage in Australia.

Also, earlier this month, tennis legend Margaret Court defended her opposition to same-sex marriage and slammed Qantas airline for supporting marriage equality. Her comments prompted calls to change the name of the Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne, The New York Times reported.

However, Court and her congregants at the Victory Life Center continue to stand with their stance against same-sex marriage. Executive pastor Michael Greaves also sided with the tennis great, saying she was not homophobic and pointed out that their church welcomes members of the LGBT community and does not kick them out.