One Gay Invited To Church of Ireland Homosexuality Conference

400 members of the General Synod of the Church of Ireland will gather this weekend in County Cavan for a conference on homosexuality, but only one of them is officially gay.

According to the programme notes ‘Andrew’ a civil partnered man brought in from France will speak, alongside ‘Jonathan’, brought in from England, who has exited a gay relationship to become Director of a Christian ex-gay Ministry.

Dr Richard O’Leary  co-editor of the book Moving Forward Together: Homosexuality and the Church of Ireland and co-founder of Changing Attitude Ireland said that although he welcomed the holding of a conference, he was concerned that there were so few gay speakers and that “no lesbians had been invited as speakers or even as guests.

“The seminar panel on ‘Gays welcome? A Pastoral Reponse’ does not include any gay speakers,” he said. “And no transgender person was invited as a speaker for the seminar on ‘The Science of Gender Determination’.”



  1. Chris Matchett says

    As a member of the Church of Ireland I am aware of the significance of this weekend’s Bishops’ Conference for members of our General Synod, and I look forward to hearing what emerges from it and how it might enable us to, in the words of CAI’s publication, ‘move forward together’.
    While everyone is, obviously, entitled to their opinion, it is disappointing to see your post which effectively undermines the event before it has even finished, especially as those attending were asked to observe a ban on tweets and posts to social media websites (which, it appears, they have.) Is it too much to expect others to respectfully refrain from comment until after the Conference has ended? It is also regrettable that you have quoted from the Conference programme notes. If the Bishops of the Church of Ireland did not consider it necessary for such details to be divulged at this stage, then it is surely not appropriate for Changing Attitude, or anyone else, to do it.
    As to the objection voiced, it is statistically probable that there was more than one gay person at the Conference and I fail to see the importance of them being ‘officially’ gay.

    • Kate says

      This short blog post only contains a statement of fact: that out of 400 people invited to a conversation about homosexuality, only one gay man and no lesbians have been invited to speak for themselves. This looks to me like the discourtesy may rather be on the side on the Church of Ireland.

      If Stonewall put on a conference called ‘What next for the Anglican Church?’ and yet officially invited only one token Christian, would you comfort yourself that some members of Stonewall may also be Christians, or might you not suspect that they would be unlikely to say much useful or sensible about you with so little representation? Looks like the same thing to me.

      • Chris Matchett says

        Kate, the more I read this post, the less I am sure it is a statement of fact. This evening, an update on the Conference was posted on the Church of Ireland website including the following in a report of proceedings: “storytellers conveyed generously their personal experiences from gay perspectives”. This sounds to me as if there was more than one ‘officially’ gay person invited to take part. I am also unsure as to whether the term ‘ex-gay’ has been applied by CA(I) or if it expressly appeared on the programme.
        I accept your point about a possible failure to listen on the part of the Church but I honestly don’t think that is the case. I am no longer a member of General Synod so was not invited to the Conference. Along with the other members of the CofI and other interested observers, including Changing Attitude, I await the Conference reports and analysis. My complaint about this post was that it was unhelpful in its timing and given the sensitive nature of the Conference. As part of the Church, why can’t CA be patient and see what actually transpired? If the CofI has indeed been discourteous to gays in their organising of the Conference, then by all means criticism is justified, but let’s get the facts right first.

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