Fixation with gay rights can “fragment” society, Rowan Williams says

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Addressing a group of teenagers during a visit to the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has claimed that a fixation with gay rights, race and feminism threatens to “fragment” the British society.

The Telegraph, which has campaigned against equality in marriage, also reports that the Archbishop has signalled an intention to become more vocal in the coming weeks, as he prepares to step down from his post, and take over the mastership of Magdalene College, Cambridge.

In debating the idea of “identity politics” with teenagers, he said it amounted to saying: “This is who I am, these are my rights, I demand that you recognise me.” He also added: “Identity politics, whether it is the politics of feminism, whether it is the politics of ethnic minorities or the politics of sexual minorities, has been a very important part of the last 10 or 20 years because before that I think there was a sense that diversity was not really welcome.

“And so minorities of various kinds and … women began to say ‘actually we need to say who we are in our terms not yours’ and that led to identity politics of a very strong kind and legislation that followed it.

“We are now, I think, beginning to see the pendulum swinging back and saying identity politics is all very well but we have to have some way of putting it all back together again and discovering what is good for all of us and share something of who we are with each other so as to discover more about who we are.

“Once we start saying this is my identity and that’s it then I think we are in danger of really fragmenting the society we belong to.”

However, Canon Giles Goddard, chairman of the Anglican Inclusive Church, which campaigns for women and gay bishops, said it was quite premature to talk of pendulums swinging back. “We have got a long way to go yet, we have to achieve full equality which is the removal of barriers to full participation of what I call accidents of birth. We haven’t removed these in society and we certainly haven’t removed them in the Church yet,” the Canon said.