A couple in Australia whose child was rejected from a Catholic school because of their sexuality have been offered a place after intervention by the diocese’s bishop, but they have turned down the offer.

The unnamed couple had wanted their daughter to attend Sacred Heart Primary School in Broken Hill, New South Wales. They were told their application had been rejected because of their sexuality.

But Bishop Kevin Manning intervened when he heard about the decision, saying: “There’s no way in the world one can penalise a child for what his or her parents do.

“And in this case, to penalise a five-year-old child because her parents are living in a homosexual relationship is just quite wrong.

“The thing that worried me initially was the fact that they hadn’t come to me to discuss the matter at all.

“It was only after this business exploded that I became aware of it and I have been in touch with both the school principal and the parish priests.”

As Acting Head of the diocese, Bishop Manning ensured an offer of enrolment was extended to the family, but it was not taken up.

Greens MP John Kaye told the Australian Gay News Network: “85 per cent of the school’s funding comes from the public purse. It has a moral obligation to adhere to community standards and ensure that a child is not victimised or discriminated against simply because of the sexuality of their parents.

“The school has been forced into a back down. The hierarchy was so embarrassed by the media exposure that a senior Catholic bishop has stepped in but the question remains whether each and every Catholic school in this state will be send a clear directive saying that this kind of treatment is not on,”

It has been illegal to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation in public schooling, businesses and employment in the state of New South Wales since 1977, but private schools are not covered under the law.