‘God is not homophobic’: Queer protesters demand Church of England end ‘un-Christian’ discrimination

A photo shows LGBTQ+ protesters outside Lambeth Palace. To the right is Labour MP Ben Bradshaw

Leading LGBTQ+ campaigners, politicians and church leaders have called for the Church of England to end its archaic stance on same-sex marriage at a protest in London. 

The rally was staged outside Lambeth Palace – the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby’s London residence – on Monday evening (January 23) as 90 parliamentarians arrived for a reception.

It comes just days after the Church of England refused to back same-sex marriage

Despite being legal since 2013, the Church of England has yet to support gay unions and include them within its teachings. 

The Church of Scotland voted to allow ministers to conduct same-sex marriages in 2022 and the Church of Wales approved a blessing service for same-sex partnerships in 2021.

The protest outside the Archbishop’s residence was organised by former government LGBT adviser and General Synod member, Jayne Ozanne, and veteran campaigner Peter Tatchell.

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At the event, the protesters were supported by politicians including Baroness Ruth Hunt and Labour’s Ben Bradshaw.

Justin Welby spoke to around 40 activists to discuss the issue. 

He told the group: “To get something through, to get equal marriage, would need legislation and legislation has to carry by two-thirds in each house of Synod.”

Ozanne, a queer Christian campaigner against conversion therapy, told PinkNews: “It was good and brave of the Archbishop to come out and meet with us. He listened to our hurt and anger over being treated as second-class citizens, but I still don’t believe he really understands the harm that conservative church teaching causes. 

“That said I’m glad that he offered to deal with any priest who we can prove is practising “conversion therapy”. 

“What saddens me most is that he made it very clear that his priority remains the unity of an institution, for which the ‘cost’ is LGBT+ lives. 

“That is deeply unjust – our priority as Christians should always be to protect the most vulnerable and marginalised, which I believe here are LGBT+ people growing up in conservative churches and countries.”

‘He didn’t say anything of substance’

Tatchell told the PA news agency that the Archbishop’s appearance at the Church of England protest was a “PR move” and did not illustrate a willingness to help further their cause.

He said: “It was good that the Archbishop came out to meet us but he didn’t say anything of substance.

“He just reiterated his stance opposing same-sex marriage – and that is discrimination.”

Asked if Welby’s presence indicated he might be willing to engage with protesters in the near future, Tatchell said: “No. I think it was a good PR move and it was good that he engaged with us but he did not move anything forward.

“He has not shown leadership. He has just sat on the fence.”

However, one positive appeared to come from the protest in that Ozanne said the Archbishop asked for a list of names of people who “preach messages that harm LGBT people” so he could “deal with” the issue.

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