The Church of Scotland could consider banning ministers who have sex outside of a marriage as a way to deal with the issue of gay ministers.

The proposal is being seen as a way to uphold the ban on ministers who have homosexual sex without breaching discrimination laws.

Legally, civil partnerships must be treated identically to marriage. It is not clear whether the church would abide by this.

The church currently has a moratorium on the ordination of new gay ministers after the ordination of Rev Scott Rennie to a church in Aberdeen last year split opinion.

Church elders are now consulting presbyteries for their views on whether gay ministers should be allowed and whether homosexuality is congruent with church teachings.

The Press and Journal reports that a document sent to presbyteries says: “The church is not immune from the civil law in relation to issues of employment such as sex discrimination.

“The legal advisers disagree on whether it would be easier for the church to defend a ban on all sexual relations outside marriage.

“If the church were of one mind on the issue of homosexual practice, it might be possible to argue that the ban was a proportionate means of complying with the doctrines of our religion.”

It also asked whether the church should see homosexuality as sinful or as one of many variations created by God.

Last week, the church held a secret ballot of ministers and elders on whether it should allow gays and lesbians to be ordained.

The results of the vote will be revealed next year, along with the results of a ballot of church members across the country.

The church’s special commission is currently undertaking a review of the issue.