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Religious Tolerance logo

LGBT topics and Christian faith groups

The Church of England and LGBT topics:
Beliefs & developments: 1991 to 2000

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In this web site, the acronym LGBT stands for
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and transgender persons

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Beliefs about homosexuality:

Generally speaking:
bullet Conservative politicians and theologians in the church view homosexuality as a behavior -- what one does. They believe that it is a chosen and changeable preference. It is unnatural, abnormal and condemned by God. Thus, any attempt to accept homosexuality as a normal, natural orientation is unacceptable to them. They feel that it will have the undesirable effect of increase the number of youth who choose the homosexual "lifestyle."

bullet Liberal politicians, liberal theologians, gays, lesbians, human sexuality researchers, mental health professionals and others tend to view homosexuality as a sexual orientation -- what one is. They generally believe that adult homosexuality is not chosen, is not changeable, and is a natural, normal sexual orientation for a minority of youth. Thus, any attempt to accept homosexuality as normal and natural should be supported. They feel that it would have the desirable effect of increasing the acceptance of youth and adults who have a homosexual orientation. It would also lower the frequency of gay bashing and other acts of oppression and discrimination.

Without an agreement at a fundamental level about the exact nature of homosexuality, consensus is impossible. Since rational debate is rare in the Church and dialogue is essentially nonexistent, change can only be effected by one side overpowering the other in influence, or by schism.

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Developments concerning homosexuality: 1991 to 2000:

bullet 1991: The Bishops' issued a statement "Issues in Human Sexuality" in 1991. It declared that stable same-sex relationships are acceptable for the laity but not for the clergy.

bullet 1997: At their synod meeting of 1997-JUL, they decided that the church's present policy on homosexuality was "not the last word on the subject." They approved a resolution requesting further discussion on the issue of human sexuality by clergy and congregations throughout England. After amendments by anti-gay members had been defeated, the resolution was passed: bishops 44/0; clergy 168/38; laity 150/88.

Richard Kirker, general secretary of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, said "It's game, set and match to us. I didn't predict and wouldn't have predicted that synod would vote as it did." The Movement had released results of a survey which found that 19 serving or retired bishops had knowingly ordained practicing homosexuals. 1


1998: At the next Lambeth Conference, a request will be made to set up an international commission of inquiry into human sexuality. Richard Kirker commented:

"We floated the idea of an international commission two years ago. It has the seeds of being helpful, but it will need among its members self-affirming lesbians and gays, not homosexuals who play the establishment's game by denying their identity."

bullet 2000: Sex-ed in British schools: The British conservative government passed Section 28 of the Local Government Act in 1988. It states that a local authority -- roughly equivalent to a municipality in North America -- "shall not promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship." 2 This regulation does not apply to most schools except in those rare cases where the local authority directly runs a special-needs school. The Government further restricted the regulation by specifically declaring that it does not restrict Local Authorities from funding and providing:

bullet Lesbian gay & bisexual social groups and events;

bullet Lesbian gay & bisexual helplines;

bullet Counseling services for lesbian gay & bisexual people; and

bullet Gay-positive books in libraries, and artistic and dramatic presentations.

The subsequent government considering scrapping  the regulation entirely. Church of England and Roman Catholic officials joined with conservative legislators in an effort to retain the act intact.

In early 2000, the two churches involved said nothing had been finalized, but a reputable London newspaper reported that a deal had been struck.

On MAR-3, The Daily Telegraph said that a compromise had been reached between the government, the Anglican Church, and the Roman Catholic church. Section 28 would be deleted; new legislation would require teachers to promote heterosexual marriage. Teachers would also be forbidden to engage in "inappropriate teaching." However this section of the law would not mention homosexuality.

Baroness Young, a senior Conservative Party member of the upper House of Lords, wanted to retain Section 28. She said that the apparent compromise "Requiring local authorities to promote marriage will not prevent them from promoting homosexuality as well." In 2000-JAN, Archbishop George Carey, condemned prejudice based on sexual orientation. But he also said: "I also resist placing homosexual relationships on an equal footing with marriage as the proper context for sexual intimacy." Cardinal Winning of the Catholic Church in Scotland is also distressed at a possible compromise, warning that:

"If we are not very, very careful, we will inadvertently promote a lifestyle for our children which will reduce their life expectancy, increase their chances of HIV infection, and expose them to predatory and abusive relationships." 3

During the week of 2000-MAR-20, the bill to remove Section 28 was rejected by the House of Lords -- an appointed body. According to Newsroom for MAR-28, "Some church leaders are calling for the resignation of an Anglican bishop who helped craft the compromise, accusing him of giving in to the gay lobby."

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Anglican Communion News Service, "SYNOD DEBATES HOMOSEXUALITY", Note 1293, 1997-JUL-21
  2. The text of "Section 28," is at:
  3. "UK church leaders consider homosexuality compromise," Maranatha Christian Journal, at:

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Site navigation:

Home page > Conflict > Homosexuality Religious groups > Christian groups > COE > here

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Copyright © 1997 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
Latest update: 2011-JUL-09
Author: B.A. Robinson

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