*** DEBUG START ***
*** DEBUG END ***

Archbishop is too bound by tradition, Tatchell laments

26 April 2013

THE Archbishop of Canterbury told the gay-rights activist Peter Tatchell (right) on Thursday of last week, during a private meeting, that opposition to same-sex marriage did not amount to "discrimination".

Archbishop Welby invited Mr Tatchell to a meeting at Lambeth Palace after the campaigner had sent him a letter last month challenging his opposition to same-sex marriage.

In a statement issued after the meeting, Mr Tatchell said that the Archbishop had struck him "as a genuine, sincere, open-minded person, willing to listen and rethink his position". Archbishop Welby was "clearly struggling to reconcile his support for loving, stable same-sex relationships with his opposition to same-sex marriage", Mr Tatchell said. "I got the impression that he wants to support gay equality, but feels bound by church tradition. . .

"The Archbishop told me: 'Gay people are not intrinsically different from straight people,' but there is an 'intrinsic difference in the nature of same-sex relationships', and this is a sufficient reason to deny gay couples the right to marry, even in civil ceremonies in register offices. When pressed to say why this 'intrinsic difference' justified banning same-sex marriage, he merely replied: 'They are just different.'"

Mr Tatchell continued: "The Archbishop did not accept that the ban on same-sex civil marriage amounted to discrimination. He told me: 'I don't accept the word discrimination.'"

Mr Tatchell also quoted Archbishop Welby as saying: "I am in favour of the state recognising same-sex relationships but not in favour of redefining marriage."

In Mr Tatchell's view, Archbishop Welby "supports a proposed amendment to open up civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples", although he does not quote Archbishop Welby directly as saying this.

Last month, Archbishop Welby told LBC Radio that the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, which is before Parliament, did "not include people equally. It's called 'equal marriage', but the proposals in the Bill don't do that" (News, 15 March). It is not clear, however, whether Archbishop Welby supports heterosexual civil partnerships in principle, or simply believes that the Bill is inconsistent in introducing civil marriage for gay couples but not civil partnerships for heterosexual couples.

Lambeth Palace declined to comment on what was said between the two men. It was private meeting, a spokeswoman said.

On the same day as meeting Mr Tatchell, Archbishop Welby also met six members of the LGBT Anglican Coalition, including the Revd Clare Herbert of Inclusive Church, and the director of Changing Attitude England, the Revd Colin Coward. Writing on his blog after the meeting, Mr Coward said: "Of the content of the meeting I'm saying nothing, as agreed beforehand. Ideas for future engagements were aired and I am confident that new ways of making progress are going to be explored."

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Forthcoming Events

Green Church Awards

Awards Ceremony: 6 September 2024

Read more details about the awards

 

Festival of Preaching

15-17 September 2024

The festival moves to Cambridge along with a sparkling selection of expert speakers

tickets available

 

Inspiration: The Influences That Have Shaped My Life

September - November 2024

St Martin in the Fields Autumn Lecture Series 2024

tickets available

 

SAVE THE DATE

Festival of Faith and Literature

28 February - 2 March 2025

The festival programme is soon to be announced sign up to our newsletter to stay informed about all festival news.

Festival website

 

Visit our Events page for upcoming and past events 

Welcome to the Church Times

 

To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)