Lesbian icon Sandi Toksvig meets Archbishop of Canterbury to discuss same-sex marriage

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby in a photo composition with comedian Sandi Toksvig

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has said progress on the Church of England (CofE) accepting same-sex marriage would be “glacial” in a conversation with lesbian icon Sandi Toksvig. 

The two met after the Welby invited Toksvig for a cup of tea in August 2022, when she took to Twitter to criticise his stance on the LGBTQ+ community as a “horrible mistake”.

The conversation between the two began after Archbishop Welby affirmed the notorious Lambeth Resolution 1.10, passed in 1998, when bishops rejected “homosexual practice as incompatible with scripture”.

Toksvig then wrote to Archbishop Welby on Twitter, claiming he had made a “horrible mistake” on the issue. 

She cited heartbreaking statistics on the likelihood of self-harm and suicide ideation among young LGBTQ+ people, asking: “Do you know why? For many it’s because they don’t feel loved, and love, Justin, is supposed to be at the core of what you do. It’s like top of the job description.”

Toksvig updated Twitter after the “long-promised coffee”, explaining that she now thought the CofE’s position on LGBTQ+ rights and same-sex marriage is “untenable”. 

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In a video posted online after the meeting, Sandi Toksvig said it was clear the “Church of England and the society it purports to represent are not remotely in step”.

She added that the Archbishop said progress on LGBTQ+ rights within the Church will be “glacial”, if it “happens at all”.

“Yesterday I went to have coffee, tea, actually, with the Archbishop of Canterbury, not a sentence I thought would ever come out of my mouth,” Toksvig said.

“From our very calm and considered conversation yesterday, it is very clear that the state’s Church of England and the society it purports to represent are not remotely in step.

“Justin was keen for me to see that they are moving forward, but conceded that any progress, as I would see it, if it happens at all, will be glacial.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury recently defended the CofE’s decision to exclude same-sex marriages from taking place in their churches.

The decision to block same-sex marriage from the Church was made during a general meeting on 17 January, where bishops refused to put the debate to a vote during the General Synod next month.

Welby then announced, alongside a formal apology to LGBTQ+ people for the way they have been treated by the Church, that same-sex couples could be blessed by priests following a marriage, but that he would not bless them himself.

“Because of my pastoral care and responsibility of being a focus of unity for the whole communion, I will not personally use them,” he said during a conference.

Prior to meeting with Sandi Toksvig, Welby told Sky News: “If someone is married in a civil marriage – a same-sex marriage – they can come to church and have that marriage recognised and thanked for and dedicate themselves to God… That’s something that we’ve never done before.

“It’s controversial. I’m getting an equal amount of flak from the other side about having compromised traditional Christian standards.”

Despite being legal since 2013, the Church of England has yet to include same-sex marriages 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.

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