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Church holds ‘Orwellian position’ on sexuality, Sandi Toksvig tells Archbishop Welby over tea

30 January 2023

Anglican Communion is being ‘held together at the expense of the LGBT+ community’


Sandi Toksvig in a video she posted on Twitter about the meeting

Sandi Toksvig in a video she posted on Twitter about the meeting

THE writer, comedian, and broadcaster Sandi Toksvig told the Archbishop of Canterbury last week that opposing factions in the Anglican Communion “are being, in part, held together at the expense of the human rights of the LGBT+ community”.

Ms Toksvig had tea with the Archbishop in Lambeth Palace on Wednesday of last week. She had requested a meeting with him in an open letter last summer, in which she complained about the “shocking statement of exclusion” of LGBTQI+ people made at the Lambeth Conference (News, 4 August 2022). In the letter, Ms Toksvig, who is a patron of Humanists UK, had said that the main takeaway from the Lambeth Conference “seems to be that gay sex is a sin”.

On Thursday of last week, Ms Toksvig posted a video on Twitter, in which she said that the meeting had taken place the previous day (although they had drunk tea, rather than coffee, as had been originally envisaged).

Ms Toksvig described the conversation as “very calm and considered”, but said that it was “very clear that the state Church of England and the society it purports to represent are not remotely in step. Justin was keen for me to see that they are moving forward, but conceded that any progress, as I would see it, if it happens at all, will be glacial.”

She continued: “It was very clear that opposing factions of the worldwide Anglican Communion are being, in part, held together at the expense of the human rights of the LGBT+ community. It’s not OK, and I said so.”

Ms Toksvig said that she had implored the Archbishop to “come out as a gay ally — basically, to come out for love. Love for all, without exceptions, and not the current Orwellian position where it would seem we are all created equal, but some are more equal than others. I hope that will happen, but I do not intend to wait upon the Church.”

She concluded by saying that she would be “reaching out to the LGBT+ community and all our allies to see what can be done. The present position is untenable.”

A Lambeth Palace spokesperson said last week that Archbishop Welby and Ms Toksvig had had “a private, friendly, and honest conversation.

“Their conversation included the recent proposal by Church of England bishops to welcome same-sex couples with prayers of dedication, thanksgiving, and for God’s blessing in church [News, 20 January] — a proposal the Archbishop fully supports. As he acknowledged last week, the Archbishop said that while this proposal goes too far for some people, it does not go far enough for others. But it reflects the diversity of views in the Church at this time, and will be debated at General Synod in early February.

“The Archbishop will continue to listen, learn, and engage in conversations like the one he had with Sandi.”

On Friday, Ms Toksvig launched an online petition to remove bishops from the House of Lords. The petition says: “Whatever goes on inside religious organisations, the Church should not be allowed to hold sway in the Houses of Parliament. It doesn’t matter what your faith is or even isn’t, it’s discriminatory and it has to stop.

“This petition calls for the removal the Church Of England's privilege to appoint bishops into the House of Lords, and remove existing bishops currently sitting in the House of Lords.”

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