The Church of England have announced that they are to lift their current ban on gay clergy becoming bishops, causing mixed responses from the public.
The Church’s House of Bishops says that as long as those in civil partnerships remain celebate, they need not fear being forced to step down. In 2003 gay cleric Jeffrey John was forced to step down after protest from traditionalists following his appointment as Bishop of Reading.
“This is one of the things that we have always questioned, if a straight person has always maintained they are celibate no proof needs to be given” says Reverend Sharon Ferguson, of The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement.
“When you are in a gay relationship, nobody believes you are celibate. It is clear discrimination.”
The announcement has caused conservative evangelical groups to voice their disapproval as expected. Michael Lawson, chairman of the Evangelical Council of the Church of England says “At the very least [it] will spread confusion and at worst will be taken as an effort to conform to the spirit of the age.”
Ruth Hunt, Director of Public Affairs for UK charity, Stonewall says “We’re sure many Anglicans will be happy to hear of the Church’s latest epiphany on gay clergy, although many lesbians will be disappointed that they remain unable to serve as bishops.
“I’m sure celibate gay men will be thrilled by this exciting new job opportunity, if perhaps somewhat perplexed as to how it will be policed by the Church.”
Last year the Church announced that they would not allowed women, gay or straight, to become bishops.
| Sarah Murphy