In Depth

Church of England takes 'step towards gay marriage'

General Synod rejects report saying church ceremonies should only be between a man and a woman

The Church of England General Synod has taken "a step towards gay marriage" in churches, the Daily Telegraph reports.

Members voted against a bishops' report saying marriage in church should only be between a man and a woman and services should not be held to bless same-sex relationships.

The report had been criticised by equality campaigners, who said the church was also adopting a "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gay clergy – a reference to the former US military policy.

What did the report say?

Marriage and Same Sex Relationships after the Shared Conversations suggests new teachings on marriage and relationships should be drawn up to replace those introduced in the 1990s. While rejecting the idea of changing policy on same-sex relationships, it says the new teachings should provide "maximum freedom" for gay couples and clergy.

What was the reaction?

Members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) community had expressed anger that, after engaging in three years of so-called "shared conversations", the bishops had decided not to recommend any change to church practice. Campaigner Peter Tatchell welcomed the synod's rejection of the report and called it a "victory for love and equality".

He added: "The bishops' report treats LGBTI clergy and laity as second class, both within the church and the wider society."

What was said last night?

Many bishops struck a conflicted or conciliatory tone. The Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Rev Pete Broadbent, said he did not want to "attempt an exercise in self-justification".

The Bishop of Norwich, Graham James, said he regretted any "pain or anger" the report may have caused.

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