Tribunal of first gay Church of England clergy member to marry set to begin

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The tribunal of a Church of England canon who was blocked from promotion after he married his same-sex partner is set to begin.

Canon Jeremy Pemberton, 58, formerly a hospital chaplain, was the first member of the clergy to enter into a same-sex marriage, when he wed his partner Laurence Cunnington last April.

His marriage defied a decision by the House of Bishops, which has banned gay clergy from marrying, and he later had his permission to officiate revoked. This meant he was also unable to take up another job at the NHS, as he was declined the correct licences.

The tribunal is being held at the Nottingham Justice Centre, and begins on Monday.

The Church of England is expected to argue that pastoral guidance makes it clear that it is not permitted for those in holy orders to enter into same-sex marriages, and that it still views marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

Pemberton, who still works as a chaplain for an NHS trust in Lincolnshire, will argue that he was unlawfully discriminated against.


He said in September: “I am deeply saddened that I have had to take this step against church authorities. However, I feel I have been left with little choice, having found myself being punished and discriminated against simply for exercising my right to marry. I will be making no further comment until these matters have been resolved through the court process.”