Gay man refuses to pay for church upkeep in Guernsey over ‘homophobia’

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A gay man in Guernsey is refusing to pay Parish Rates, which contribute to the upkeep of churches, because the church is “homophobic”.

Leo Thomas has said he finds the rates, which are paid by everyone in Guernsey, are “extremely questionable”.

He has refused to pay the Parish Rates because of the church’s “homophobic stance on gay marriage”, and because it “openly discriminates against the gay community”.

The Dean of Guernsey from the Anglican Church has said he would respond to Thomas directly and privately.

But Thomas, who is openly gay, wrote an open letter asking if he could be removed from his duty to pay the Rates “due to the Church of England’s institutional homophobic stance on gay marriage”.

He wrote: “As a person classed as a sinner and not worthy to get married in a church why should I be obliged and forced to pay a penny towards the costs of said church?

“If the Church of England was a private company, I probably would have a strong case of discrimination in court.”

Instead of paying it to the rates, he said he would donate the £7.94 to a local charity instead.

Douzaine’s manage each parish in Guernsey, as well as the central government.

Each douzaine breaks down Parish Rates by owner and refuge rates, and cover the cost of local services provided.

They cover rubbish and recycling, licensing, boat moorings, highways, planning permission and the upkeep of parish churches.

Deputy Peter Ferbrache said he opposes discrimination and is sympathetic to Thomas, but that he disagrees with not paying the Rates.

“I regard the church buildings as an important part of our heritage. They should be preserved. ”

Same-sex marriage was approved in Guernsey last September by a vote of 33-5.

The Balliwicks of Jersey and Guernsey (the Channel Islands) – which have a population of just 165,000 – are crown dependencies, and retain autonomy from the United Kingdom. Both Guernsey and Jersey continue to ban same-sex weddings.
Last year, the Jersey States overwhelmingly accepted proposals that begin to bring Jersey into line with England, Wales and Scotland, by permitting same-sex couples to wed.

The Guernsey States also voted to introduce same-sex marriage by 33 to 5, in the culmination of a years-long process.

Once approved by the Privy Council, it is expected that the first same-sex marriages in Guernsey will be able to take place from mid-2017.