A German judge recently ruled that a woman working at a Catholic kindergarten can indeed be fired by the church for being a lesbian, but only after her maternity leave is used up.
The unnamed 39-year-old woman admits to having kept her sexuality private for years while working as the head of a Bavarian kindergarten. However, when she and her partner received the news that she was going to have a baby, she decided it was time to be honest with her church employers.
Her church employers reportedly moved to dismiss her immediately, per their belief that her relationship was a breach of their moral code. However, in cases like these the state must approve any such firings and the move to terminate her employment met with problems when state officials realized that the woman was on maternity leave, a right protected by the state.
As such, officials reportedly told the church that they could not fire the woman while she was on maternity leave. The church, finding this unacceptable, took the matter before the courts.
However, Judge Ivo Moll in an opinion issued Tuesday of last week decided that, while church employers are within their authority to fire the woman, they cannot do so while she is on maternity leave and must therefore continue to pay her until her leave is through.
“Something like a life partnership between women is of course unthinkable for the church,” said Judge Ivo Moll of the Augsburg administrative court.
He said the woman can be fired — but said this must wait until the end of her maternity leave.
The woman, who says she remains a Catholic, said she did not expect to set foot in the kindergarten again.
It is not known whether the church will appeal this ruling.
Secular laws in Germany prevent sexual orientation discrimination, however religious institutions and affiliated bodies are given broad exemptions to decide their own hiring and firing policies.