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A billboard designed to challenge the Anglican Church's view on gay and lesbian priests has already been vandalised.

Auckland Anglican Church has put up a billboard outside its church, displaying a "Gay-Dar" meter that shows "Straight" on one side and "Gay" on the other and suggests the Anglican Church uses this to assess potential priests.

The church, which offers same-sex blessings among its services, has courted controversy with previous billboards, including one that depicted Mary and Joseph in bed with the caption: "Poor Joseph. God was a hard act to follow."

The latest "Gay-Dar" billboard had been vandalised by midday today with the cross ripped off it.

Reverend Clay Nelson said the damage appeared to be sabotage, which was frustrating.

The cross would probably be replaced, he told Radio New Zealand.

Vicar Glynn Cardy said St Matthew's had endured enough of New Zealand's Anglican bishops refusing to consider a candidate for ordination if they were gay or lesbian and in a committed relationship.

The congregation voted unanimously at a recent general meeting to send a letter to their bishop respectfully asking him to end this discrimination in their diocese.

"We see this as an issue of discrimination that harms not only the gay and lesbian community, but society and ultimately the church as well," Mr Cardy said.

The church had initiated a petition in the parish and online asking people to support their call for all the New Zealand bishops to end what they believed was an unjust practice, he said.

He invited people to sign the petition and follow the debate on its website and Facebook page.

The New Zealand Anglican Church had been debating the issue of ordaining gays and lesbians since the 1990s.

Mr Cardy said some bishops in New Zealand had in the past ordained gay and lesbian candidates.

``However, following the international furore around the 2004 consecration of Gene Robinson -- an American priest who is gay and in a committed relationship -- New Zealand's bishops have seemed more concerned to promote unity with the majority rather than uphold justice for a minority.''

Bishop Philip Richardson of Taranaki said the stumbling block was that the Anglican Church had not yet agreed as a whole to whether or not ``sexual orientation towards those of one's own gender is a consequence of wilful human sinfulness, or an expression of God-given diversity''.

Rev Nelson, priest associate of St Matthew's, said he was amazed that ``in this day and age, with all the information and science available to us that `the church' can still argue that sexual orientation is a matter of wilfulness''.

It appeared that justice was being held hostage by ignorance and the bishops must enlighten the church and end the discrimination, Rev Nelson said.

- with NZPA