Changing Attitude England welcomes the judgement issued by the Employment Tribunal against the Board of Finance of the Diocese of Hereford. The Tribunal found that the Diocese discriminated against Mr John Reaney in not appointing him to the post of Youth Officer within the Diocese. The tribunal claim was backed and financed by the gay lobby group Stonewall.
The Revd Colin Coward, Director of Changing Attitude England, said:
“The judgement issued against the Diocese of Hereford is a small but significant step forward for the movement towards the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) people in the Church of England.
“I am sad that the Bishop of Hereford was unwise enough to have intervened in John Reaney’s appointment, but lesbian and gay Anglicans can now thank him for having lost a crucial test case. Every other conservative bishop will now be far more reluctant to take action against any LGBT person employed by the church, lay or ordained, because of their sexuality.
“Changing Attitude has formed a close relationship with many bishops, forged by our presence at General Synod and through our 24 diocesan groups. Changing Attitude knows that the majority of bishops are privately supportive of their lesbian and gay clergy. Some bishops have attended when their clergy have celebrated the registration of their Civil Partnership.
“Nevertheless, those who are ordained remain in a more vulnerable position compared with lay people in the church. Lesbian and gay clergy in particular are still very vulnerable if they are open about their sexuality, especially if they are living with a partner. Problems arise when a priest wants to move to a new parish or between dioceses. Until the church escapes from its present dishonest and prejudiced attitude towards lesbian and gay people, clergy especially will remain at risk.
“Sadly, the Bishop of Hereford follows “Issues in Human Sexuality in treating lay and ordained people differently. “Issues” grudgingly accepts that lay people may be allowed to form loving, intimate relationships but says that those who are ordained must remain celibate. Both clergy and lay people need exactly the same freedom to commit themselves in love to a lifelong, faithful relationship.
“The press release issued by the bishop contains a number of serious inaccuracies. The Bishop of Hereford fails to understand accurately the status of the documents about human sexuality issued by the church. He perpetuates the myth that “Issues in Human Sexuality” and the Lambeth Resolution 1.10 are policy documents which have legal or binding authority on the church. They do not, although they are repeatedly used in this way, reinforcing the abuse of LGBT by certain parts of the Church of England.”
The Hereford statement refers to “Sexual Discrimination” and to the “Sexual Discrimination Act” when the case in fact relates to the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003.
The statement refers to the House of Bishops Statement “Issues in Human Sexuality” as a teaching document when it was issued as a document “designed to promote an educational process.“ It is not the teaching of the church nor of the House of Bishops.
The statement says the policy (sic) was endorsed by a General Synod motion of 1987. The Church of England does not have a policy about lesbian and gay people. “Issues in Human Sexuality” was published in 1991, 4 years after General Synod discussed a private member’s motion. There was no policy in 1987 and General Synod did not endorse a policy.
Neither the Lambeth Conference resolution 1.10 of 1998 nor the House of Bishop’s document “Issues in Sexuality” of 1991 are policy documents.