Protest at York Minster over Sentamu gay marriage views

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Around a hundred protesters gathered outside York Minster today to protest against anti-marriage equality comments made by the city’s Archbishop.

The Yorkshire Post reports that scores of demonstrators chanted on steps of the Gothic cathedral, denouncing the “hurtful and archaic” views expressed by Dr John Sentamu.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph at the weekend, the second most senior cleric in the Church of England had compared the UK government introducing marriage equality with the actions of a dictatorship, prompting calls for a demonstration outside his cathedral.

In an open letter, Tim Ellis, President of the University of York Students’ Union, said the Archbishop’s views were “extremely disappointing”.

He wrote: “Whilst the Archbishop may say that it is not the place of the government to define what marriage is, I would argue that it is the state’s responsibility to ensure that all UK citizens can enjoy equal rights regardless of their sexual orientation.

“It is not the place of the church to use outdated and homophobic rhetoric to deny citizens of their right to marry.”

Last year, Prime Minister Cameron told the Conservative Party conference: “To anyone who has reservations, I say this: Yes, it’s about equality, but it’s also about something else: commitment. Conservatives believe in the ties that bind us; that society is stronger when we make vows to each other and support each other.

“So I don’t support gay marriage in spite of being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I am a Conservative.”

Dr Senatmu holds an opposing view and told the newspaper last week: “Marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman.

“I don’t think it is the role of the state to define what marriage is. It is set in tradition and history and you can’t just [change it] overnight, no matter how powerful you are.”

He added: “We’ve seen dictators do it in different contexts and I don’t want to redefine very clear social structures that have been in existence for a long time and then overnight the state believes it could go in a particular way.

“It’s almost like somebody telling you that the Church, whose job is to worship God [will be] an arm of the Armed Forces. They must take arms and fight. You’re completely changing tradition.”

Peter Tatchell called it an “inflammatory attack on the democratic will of the British people and on the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) men and women”.

Writing for, he said: “To insist that the law discriminate against gay couples and treat them as inferior, second class citizens strikes me as devoid of the love and compassion that is attributed to Jesus Christ in the gospels.”