The Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA) has condemned the recommendation by the Church of England’s legal advisors (as revealed by The Guardian Newspaper) that it is not open to those appointing a bishop or a suffragan Bishop to propose someone who is in a sexually active same sex relationship.
GALHA Chair Adam Knowles commented:
“Humanists accept that religious organisations should be broadly entitled to choose leaders who adhere to their rules, even where we believe those rules to be bizarre, anachronistic or immoral – and the Church of England’s attempt to ban gay Bishops is all three. It seeks to deny gay people in that position the right to a loving relationship fully lived out.
“What is totally unacceptable is that an organisation that flagrantly practices discrimination of this kind should enjoy a special privileged place in the national Legislature. It is in any case indefensible that the British Parliament should be the only one in the world – apart from that of Iran – which reserves places in the National Legislature for religious figures. It is adding insult to injury that these are appointed in a way specifically designed to exclude gay men, as well as – currently – all women.
“This issue has a practical impact on the laws under which we all live. In the past Anglican Bishops have frequently figured amongst those voting to try to block equality for LGBT people.
“We call upon the British Government and Parliament to work to remove Bishops from the proposed reformed upper house. Religious figures are perfectly entitled to seek membership of the British upper house, but they should go through the same process as everyone else, whether this involves election or appointment. That process must be seen to be transparent and non-discriminatory.
“In the long term the Church of England should be disestablished – a vital step in making Britain a secular society in which people of all beliefs enjoy equal rights and protection under the law.”