The Anglican Bishop of Auckland is being taken to the Human Rights Tribunal over allegations he is discriminating against a gay man who wants to become a priest.
Right Reverend Ross Bay has been accused of preventing a gay man entering the Anglican Church's training or discernment programme for priests because he is unmarried and in a sexual relationship with his male partner.
Bay denies the allegation.
The complainant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said he had been signalling his desire to train for the priesthood since 2006, but had never been accepted into the programme.
In a statement filed to the Tribunal, the complainant said:
"I felt totally humiliated that I had spend six years of my life in study, for a process that I was not permitted to enter because I was a gay man and in a relationship.
"My humiliation and disappointment continues to this day."
The man said if he was unmarried but in a heterosexual relationship or a Civil Union he would have been accepted.
The Human Rights Act 1993 allows exceptions to some discrimination laws, including where organised religions are following their doctrine.
Bay, who approves entrants to the Anglican Church's clergy training programme, has been the Bishop of Auckland since 2010.
The Bishop said, ultimately, church rules determine who can be ordained, and he refused the man entry "by reason of the defendant not being chaste in terms of canons of the Anglican Church".
Bay said anyone in a sexual relationship outside of marriage would not be accepted to train as a priest.
The Anglican Church is also currently debating whether to ordain gay and lesbian clergy.
Massey University professor Peter Lineham said the issue would make for spectacular discussion and debate.
"There is no question about it, this raises the most profound issues about the relationship of church and state.
"It has, potentially, got the power to split the whole Anglican Church."
The Human Rights Tribunal hearing starts tomorrow.