A tribunal in New Zealand has ruled in favour of a church that refused to allow a gay man to become a priest.

The Human Rights Tribunal dismissed a complaint against the Anglican Diocese of Auckland over their decision to deny Eugene Sisneros entry into the discernment process because he was in an unmarried relationship.

One of the requirements to be a priest in the New Zealand Anglican Church is that a person must either be single and celibate or in a heterosexual marriage.

The claimant, the Gay and Lesbian Clergy Anti-Discrimination Society, alleged Mr Sisneros was discriminated against due to his marital status, and also because he was in a same-sex relationship.

But on Thursday the tribunal rejected this assertion and ruled the Auckland diocese had not breached the country’s Human Rights Act because the church was complying with its own rules.

“Those ineligible for entry include those in a heterosexual de facto relationship and those in a homosexual relationship which is committed and monogamous in nature,” said the tribunal’s decision.

“Being gay or lesbian is not in itself a bar to ordination. But any candidate not in a marriage between a man and a woman must be celibate.”