Teacher rejected from job over his gay marriage
14 September 2005
BRUSSELS – A gay man in Flanders has been turned down from teaching because he is married to a male partner, it was reported on Wednesday.
Gertjan Bikker, a Dutch religious education teacher, applied for a post in the Flemish community in Belgium.
To teach about the protestant religion in the region, candidates have to present their applications to a committee made up of representatives of the United Protestant Church of Belgium (EPUB) and the Synod of Evangelical Churches.
The committee rejected Bikker’s application because a few years earlier in the Netherlands he had married. The decision was taken despite the fact that Belgium was the second country after the Netherlands to legalise gay marriage, in September 2003.
In July, the country counted 2,442 gay couples, three percent of the total of Belgian marriages.
Priest Kommer Groeneveld told De Standaard, which broke the story, the committee took its decision to protect Bikker rather than to stigmatise him. “Homosexual marriage is too controversial at the moment and it seemed to us we should protect the teacher.
“A high number of parents don’t accept homosexual marriage and he wouldn’t have been any more protected by his pupils. It would have created permanent instability.”
Michel Dandoy, speaking for the EPUB, said: “We’re often talking about optional classes where boycotts can have very upsetting consequences since the teacher could find himself in front of an empty class, which would be very damaging for him.”
Dandoy added, though, that more evangelical priests were against gay marriage than those from the EPUB.
“Individual conscience is essential among us,” he said. “Traditional Belgian Protestantism is characterised by a large plurality of opinions. Our church undertook a deep reflection on this social theme at our last synod assembly and that continues at a local level.
“It’s also a question of community point of views: some are open to female priests, others aren’t. You could say the same for coloured priests, etc.”
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Belgian news