Same sex discrimination: foster parents

This case concerned the rights of same-sex couples to be foster parents. In 2002, Wesley Mission refused to accept an application for foster parenting from a male same-sex couple (known as OV & OW) on the grounds of their sexuality.

PIAC took their case to the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal (ADT), which found that this refusal constituted discrimination in the provision of a service on the grounds of sexuality.

The ADT found that Wesley Mission was not entitled to rely on the ‘religious bodies’ exception in section 56 of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW).

Wesley Mission appealed the ADT’s decision to the ADT Appeal Panel. The Appeal Panel found that the word ‘religion’ had a different meaning from that given to it by the ADT and sent the matter back to the ADT for re-hearing.

PIAC’s clients appealed to the NSW Court of Appeal. That appeal was successful and the matter was remitted to the ADT for further determination. The ADT conducted a further hearing and in December 2010, found in favour of Wesley Mission on the basis that section 56(d) of the Anti Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW) applied.

The Attorney General of NSW appeared as an intervener before both the Appeal Panel and the Court of Appeal, arguing against PIAC’s clients.

PIAC is very grateful to counsel representing OV & OW,  Chris Ronalds SC, Rachel Pepper (now Justice Pepper) and Anna Perigo.

ADT and NSW Court of Appeal decisions

OV & anor v QZ & anor (No. 2) [2008] NSWADT 115

Members of the Board of the Wesley Mission Council v OW and OV [2009] NSWADTAP 5 (27 January 2009)

Members of the Board of the Wesley Mission Council v OV & OW (No. 2) [2009] NSWADTAP 57
 (1 October 2009)

OV & OW v Members of the Board of the Wesley Council [2010] NSWCA 155 (6 July 2010)

OW & OV v Members of the Board of the Wesley Mission Council [2010] NSWADT 293 (10 December 2010)

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