A report stating that the Church of England should continue to oppose same-sex marriage has been sensationally rejected by Church’s ruling body.
On Wednesday (16 February), a report on homosexuality by the House of Bishops was presented to the General Synod – the Church’s ruling body – for debate.
The recommendations stated that they Church should “welcome and support” LGBT people, but should continue its official opposition same-sex marriage.
To win approval the report had to win backing in all three Church Houses – the House of Bishops, the House of Laity, and the House of Clergy.
The House of Bishops voted overwhelmingly (43-1) in favour of the report, and the House of Laity backed it by 106 votes to 83.
However, the report was rejected by the House of Clergy, who voted 100-93 against, with two abstentions, meaning Bishops will have to go back and produce a new report.
While not a formal rejection of the Church’s anti-equal marriage stance, the vote is an important step on the Church’s journey to accepting LGBT rights, and demonstrates just how deeply divided the organisation remains over the issue.
Veteran human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell welcomed the news, saying: “This vote to, in effect, reject the Bishops’ report is a victory for love and equality.”
“It is the biggest defeat for the Anglican leadership in many decades. Synod refused to endorse the anti-LGBT exclusion and discrimination enshrined in the Bishops’ recommendations.”
It later emerged that the one vote against the report in the House of Bishops was due to a Bishop pressing the wrong button on his voting pad.
Bishop of Coventry, Christopher Cocksworth, admitted he voted against the report in error, explaining: “Much to my embarrassment, I have managed to give the impression that there was not complete agreement in the House of Bishops that the Report provided us with the best way forward.
“Due to a moment of distraction and some confusion over the voting process, I pressed the wrong button on my handset, thus registering a vote against taking note rather than a vote for taking note of the Report.
“I have apologised to my colleagues in the House of Bishops and to the Archbishops for my mistake.”