A vote by the Church of England to keep its ban on women bishops has again highlighted other inequalities, including for gay and transgender people
By Helen Belcher
22 November 2012
Equalities and the Church of England. Right now it doesn’t seem as though they mix terribly well.
The General Synod’s House of Laity (one of the church’s governing bodies) voted against proposals for allowing women to be bishops on Tuesday (20 November). All around are cries about equalities legislation and forcing the church to comply.
One effect is to reserve 26 seats in the House of Lords for male bishops, seats that women can never occupy in the UK parliament. Naturally this is also raising questions about disestablishment – separating the church from the British state – a discussion that has been ongoing for at least 300 years.
In June this year, a report commissioned by the bishops of the Church of England wholeheartedly rejected the government’s proposals for equal marriage. This response also came in for much condemnation, and certainly the views in the pews don’t seem as rigid as the bishops’ paper would indicate. There are religious groups (and Anglican priests) who wish to conduct same-sex marriages.
My own response to the UK government suggested that, rather than saying no-one could conduct same-sex marriages in religious premises, priests who didn’t want to conduct same-sex marriages could opt out, in the same way as they can currently opt out of marrying divorcees or trans people. Forcing a blanket ban appears to be an equal and opposite breach of the Human Rights Convention, which supports freedom of expression of religion.
The claim from those supporting the continued ties between church and state is that the Church of England is still required to give moral guidance to the country. Yet look closely at the roots of the legislation that the church can opt out of. It’s moral legislation. It beggars belief how a church can claim that its (male-only) seats in the House of Lords are required to give moral guidance into legislation yet be able to legally opt out of the moral positions society as a whole has now adopted and is prepared to enforce in courts of law.
We all know the paroxysms the Church of England has been throwing itself into for years regarding homosexuality. In the midst of all this grief, it’s easy to miss that the church is also conflicted regarding trans people.
Continue reading at: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/women-gays-and-trans-all-bishop-bashed221112