We campaign to end discrimination against partnered lesbian and gay people who are Readers; LGBT people who offer for Reader training; or those who enter a civil partnership or relationship when they are Readers.
Changing Attitude has collected evidence that partnered lesbian and gay people offering themselves for Reader training or contracting a Civil Partnership while holding a licence are being subjected to very different policies. Some bishops are treating Readers in the same way as those who are ordained and imposing the recommendations from Issues in Human Sexuality as if they were clergy. Others are treating them as lay people and applying the recommendations of Issues set out in para 5.6 p41, that the bishops are” unable … to commend [a loving, faithful homophile partnership] … but do not reject those who sincerely believe it is God’s call to them.”
General Synod Question
At the request of Changing Attitude a member of General Synod asked a question at the General Synod meeting in July 2006:
Has the House considered how Issues in Human Sexuality, a discussion document – but which has been quoted as indicating the Church of England’s view on matters of human sexuality and which suggests that different types of lifestyle may be acceptable amongst the laity from that expected of clergy – is being applied in the selection of persons for training or licensing as Readers, which is a lay ministry?
The following answer was given:
No: Matters relating to the selection of Readers are principally for diocesan bishops who, in determining their selection criteria, would no doubt take account of the Synod’s 1987 motion and Lambeth 1998 Resolution 1.10 as well as Issues in Human Sexuality.
Central Readers Council
Informally, we discovered that the then Bishop of Carlisle, as Chair of the Central Readers’ Council, was looking at the criteria which should apply to all who hold a Bishop’s licence or commission.
We have been in correspondence with the Central Readers Council since then. In July 2010 they considered our request for clarity and responded that Readers are, as lay people, not at present subject to the restrictions imposed on clergy by the House of Bishops advice in Issues in Human Sexuality. However, they said, this may change in view of the suggestions that for certain purposes Readers should be considered alongside clergy as ministers with a licence to officiate and/or preach at public worship.
We hope that our request for clarification will now be taken to the House of Bishops who have not yet “expressed their mind on the relationship between lay and ordained ministries.”
The outcome we seek is equality for all, and the rejection of ‘Issues in Human Sexuality’ as a document which imposes policy about LGBT people on the House of Bishops and the Church.