Gay hospital chaplain begins appeal after losing job because he got married

PinkNews logo on a pink background surrounded by illustrated line drawings of a rainbow, pride flag, unicorn and more.

Gay hospital chaplain Jeremy Pemberton has begun an appeal against an employment tribunal ruling – after the Church of England stripped him of his job for getting married.

Canon Jeremy Pemberton was the first member of the Church of England clergy to enter into a same-sex marriage, when he wed his partner Laurence Cunnington in April 2014.

As the Church of England bans gay clergy from marrying, the NHS hospital chaplain had his permission to officiate revoked by a Bishop. This meant he was blocked from taking further jobs.

Mr Pemberton pursued a claim on the grounds that the Church discriminated against him because of his sexuality – but he lost the employment tribunal after the church argued it was exempt from the Equality Act’s anti-discrimination protections.

He has this week launched an appeal against that ruling.

Mr Pemberton told the Newark Advertiser: “I hope one day to be given permission to officiate again.

“It’s painful for me not to have any way to operate as a priest. I don’t have a licence to officiate in Lincoln anymore.

“I am a priest without any roots and that’s the first time in a long time it has been the case for me. I regret that. I’m a priest at heart and I want to share God’s love with people and share that love in my life.”

Mr Pemberton left his job in Lincoln last month and is now a civil celebrant, meaning he can lead civil weddings, naming ceremonies and funerals.

If unsuccessful in his appeal, Mr Pemberton can go to the Court of Appeal and then the Supreme Court. He said he would consult his legal team once the result was known.

A spokesman for the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham said: “We cannot comment on this case directly while it is still being considered by the courts.

“The Church supports gay men and women who serve as clergy in its parishes, dioceses and institutions, and supports clergy who are in civil partnerships.

“The Church’s doctrine on marriage is clear and the Church expects that clergy will honour their commitment to model and live up to the teachings of the Church.”