Archbishop of Canterbury ‘should apologise’ for Church homophobia

A senior member of the Church of England clergy has called on the Archbishop of Canterbury to apologise for the Church’s role in creating anti-gay laws around the world.

The Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, the Very Revd Prof Martyn Percy, made the claim in an essay for lobbying group Modern Church.

In the article, he petitioned the Archbishop Justin Welby in his role as head of the global Anglican Communion, to apologise for anti-LGBT church policies around the world.

He wrote: “No established church can afford to de-nationalise itself on an issue that is now treated as a matter of equality and justice by the state.

“Civil partnerships and same-sex marriages, and those entering into these unions, enjoy the full protection of the law, and majority affirmation by the population as a whole.

“For any national church to turn its face away from those who are full and equal citizens, and have their unions and marriages recognised as such, effectively augments a process of de-nationalisation and privatisation.

“It is a route-march towards a tribal church.”

He warned of not fully embracing LGBT people: “The church becomes, in effect, a sad and unwelcoming restaurant with a rationed menu, where the diners who tried to order a meat dish were made to feel terribly guilty.

“Or more likely, quietly asked by the sullen owner, or embarrassed waiter, to take their custom elsewhere. The diners duly leave.

“In effect, this is the adopted position of the Church of England by the current Archbishop. But a national church must cater for the whole palate of the population. That is what a broad church does.

“So, what about the rest of the Anglican Communion? Here, it might be time for some home truths. In 41 of the 53 countries within the British Commonwealth, homosexual conduct is still regarded as a serious crime.

“This categorisation and legal stigmatisation of homosexuality was largely ‘made in England’ in the nineteenth century, and imposed on cultures and emerging countries and that had not been, hitherto, homophobic.

“This is one of England’s less wholesome exports. The Archbishop of Canterbury could begin the Primates’ meeting by accepting responsibility for the part the Church of England has played in perpetrating this discrimination and the subsequent injustices – and publicly repenting of them.”

Of the strong influence of African churches in the Anglican Communion, he added: “The right treatment of homosexual people is not a conditional concern to put to a vote of argumentative Archbishops… nor should post-colonial guilt be allowed to be converted into spiritual capital that then becomes a tool of oppression.

“And who, exactly, are the oppressed? Not the surging, strident churches of the global south. Those needing protection and care are still lesbian, gay and bisexual Christians; or women in violent, abusive relationships.

“The reconciliation required is between, note, inequalities of power. Conservatives are not oppressed or criminalised for their opposition to lesbian, gay and bisexual people – ever, anywhere.”