Archbishop of Canterbury accused of ‘failing to show leadership on LGBT marriage’

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby (left) speaks with Jayne Ozanne (right) and other LGBT+ activists and their allies outside Lambeth Palace, south London, ahead of a reception for Parliamentarians to call for an end to discrimination against LGBT+ people in the UK United States to claim Church of England. Plans to allow same-sex civil marriages to be blessed for the first time were outlined last week, but the position on gay marriage will not change and same-sex couples will still not be able to marry in the church. Picture date: Monday January 23, 2023. PA Photo. See PA story RELIGION Marriage. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby (left) speaks with Jayne Ozanne (right) and other LGBT+ activists and their allies outside Lambeth Palace (Image: PA).

The Archbishop of Canterbury has been accused of failing to show leadership in ending discrimination against LGBT people after he appeared at a protest against equal marriage rights.

Justin Welby spoke to around 40 activists who gathered in front of his The Lambeth Palace London residence is demanding that same-sex couples be allowed to marry in the church.

Monday night’s protest was organized by Jayne Ozanne, former government LGBT adviser and member of the General Synod, along with veteran activist Peter Tatchell.

They were supported by Conservative politicians such as Baroness Ruth Hunt and Ben Bradshaw.

Mr Welby said he could understand why it is painful for LGBT people to see the same marriage rights being denied, but said church institutions worldwide were “deeply divided” on the issue.

He told the protesters: “To get anything done – to get equal marriage – it would take legislation, and legislation needs to be backed by two-thirds in each house of the synod.”

Mr Tatchell said the archbishop’s appearance at the protest was a “public relations move” and showed no willingness to advance their cause.

Justin Welby met with protesters on Monday night (Image: PA)
LGBT activists claimed the archbishop didn’t say anything substantial (Image: PA)

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

“He was just reiterating his stance against same-sex marriage — and that is discrimination.”

Asked whether Mr Welby’s presence suggests he might be ready to engage with protesters in the near future, Mr Tatchell said: “No.

“I think it was a good PR move and it was good that he got involved with us, but he didn’t move anything forward.

“He showed no leadership. He was just sitting on the fence.’

Mr Tatchell said the archbishop’s refusal to personally bless same-sex couples, although he welcomed suggestions for others within the church to do so, was an act of “homophobic appeasement” within the institution.

“LGBT people are being sacrificed in the name of church unity,” he said.

“That’s not a Christian approach.”

Ms Ozanne said one “tangible action” taken by the Archbishop was that he asked for a list of names of people who “preach messages that are harmful to LGBT people” so that he could “deal with” the problem.

Asked how difficult it is to be part of an institution that doesn’t always welcome gay people, Ms Ozanne said: “For many it’s very triggering, for many it’s very painful and I think most of us are on the reached the end of the road.

“One of the things that pisses me off the most is that we talk about unity all the time, but even talking about unity seems to exclude the LGBT community who are leaving in droves.

“I hope we wake up to the damage we’re doing.

“We wouldn’t treat multiracial couples like that, we wouldn’t treat disabled people like that, but somehow we seem to think it’s okay to treat LGBT people like that. That has to stop.”

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Justin Scacco

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