Archbishop of Canterbury to discuss gay rights with Peter Tatchell on Thursday

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The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is set to discuss gay rights with Peter Tatchell on Thursday at Lambeth Palace.

Last month, the human rights campaigner announced he had secured a meeting with Archbishop Welby, who has made a number of public remarks about gay rights in recent months.

Shortly after his appointment in November of last year Archbishop Welby spoke of the need of the Church of England to have “no truck with any form of homophobia”.

In March, Archbishop Welby said he supported strengthening gay relationships, but not through allowing same-sex couples to marry.

Ahead of his enthronement in the same month, the global Anglican leader said he was “deeply challenged” on how the church should deal with sexuality and same-sex relationships. “You see gay relationships that are just stunning in the quality of the relationship,” he said.

Commenting on the Archbishop’s decision to meet him, Mr Tatchell said: “I applaud the Archbishop’s willingness to engage in dialogue – all the more so because he comes from the conservative evangelical wing of the church.

“I hope our meeting is not mere window-dressing and good PR for the church. I’m expecting more than tea and sympathy.

“I will be urging a rethink of the church’s opposition to same-sex civil marriage and an end to Anglican collusion with the persecution of gay people in Nigeria and Uganda.”

“I plan to call on the Archbishop to embrace a new historic compromise with the gay community: that the church can continue to believe that homosexuality is wrong but will agree that homophobic discrimination is also wrong – and actively oppose it.”

Mr Tatchell added: “The Church of England’s opposition to same-sex civil marriage is a direct and un-Christian attack on the human rights of gay people.

“While Anglicans have every right to refuse to conduct religious gay marriages, they should halt their campaign against gay marriages hosted by civil authorities. The church should have no jurisdiction or veto over marriages in register offices.”

It is the first time an Archbishop has offered to meet with Mr Tatchell – who is synonymous with Britain’s LGBT rights movement.