Church criticised for not fully reversing same-sex marriage ban

Equality campaigners and MPs have criticised the Church of England for not fully reversing its ban on same-sex marriages after it voted to bless gay civil marriages for the first time.

Andrew Foreshew-Cain, co-founder of Equal, the campaign for equal marriage in the Church of England, said LGBTQ+ Anglicans would remain “second-class citizens” within the Church despite the change.

“I am struck by the slight incoherence of the bishops’ proposals because they are apologising for the way gay people have been treated in the church while still continuing to treat us as second-class citizens,” he said.

“They have been saying gay and lesbian people have been welcome for years. That is not new. The bishops have always said recently that discriminating against gay and lesbian people in church is wrong, except of course their own discrimination against the clergy.”

LGBTQ+ rights charity Stonewall described the bishops’ decision as a “kick in the teeth”.

It said in a statement: “We are really disappointed to see Church of England bishops vote down proposals to allow same-sex marriage. This is a kick in the teeth for LGBTQ+ Christians who deserve for their love to be recognised and respected within their faith community.

“Faith is an important part of many LGBTQ+ people’s lives, and this move shows the Church to be out of step with the inclusive values that define modern Britain, and moves by Anglican communities outside of England who now recognise our community’s love as equally valid.”

Ben Bradshaw, a lifelong Anglican and the Labour MP for Exeter, told the PA news agency that today was a “very dark day” for the Church of England.

“This is a very dismaying decision and will lead to many more Anglicans in England giving up on the church,” he said.

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Ben Bradshaw MP said today was a ‘very dark day’ for the Church of England (Laura Lean/PA)

“It has also set up a likely constitutional clash between the Church of England and Parliament which could have quite serious and far-reaching repercussions.

“It is simply not sustainable for the established church in England to be institutionally transphobic. The role of the established church is to serve everyone in the nation, so it cannot continue to actively exclude a particular group.”

Steve Reed, Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary, also criticised the move and said the Church was “pandering to ancient bigotry”.

He said: “Unacceptable for the established church to continue pandering to ancient bigotry. A faith that professes love should embrace loyal, loving and committed relationships that increase the sum of human happiness just as public opinion and the law have done.”