Church of Ireland Synod blasted for 'homophobia' after vote on marriage
The churches have been branded “the last bastion of homophobia” following a Church of Ireland vote to back the traditional Christian view of marriage alone.
The ruling General Synod voted to pass a controversial motion that “faithfulness within marriage is the only normative context for sexual intercourse”.
Gay rights campaigner Gerry Lynch, of Changing Attitudes Ireland and a member of St George’s Church in Belfast, said: “Nobody says that my love life is not ‘normative’ when the collection plate is passed round, or when I come in on a Saturday to get the church ready for Sunday, or spend time with distressed people who often turn up at a city centre church.
“The General Synod vote confirmed many gay people’s experience of the churches as the last bastion of homophobia.”
Dr Paul Rowlandson, a parishioner from St Columb’s Cathedral in Londonderry, said the synod had “rushed to judgment on its gay members”.
“The vote will make the Church of Ireland a colder house for gay people like my daughter,” he said.
David McConnell, a Dublin member of the CoI, said the motion on sexuality had been passed with “unnecessary haste”.
“The General Synod’s decision to accept it in controversial circumstances has added to and not reduced the hurt and exclusion caused by the Church to its gay and lesbian members,” he said.
The vote in Dublin on Saturday came after days of complex procedural matters at the General Synod — three resolutions were withdrawn on Thursday and then redrafted, with an amendment, into one motion for debate.
The motion included a call by the Church for its members to show mutual understanding and respect — but the challenge of same-sex relationships is not going to diminish any time soon.
The synod also declared a willingness to increase awareness of the complexity of human sexuality, and agreed to put forward proposals to try to form a select committee on same-sex relationships this time next year.
A number of gay clergy, particularly in Northern Ireland, have spoken of their fear of making their sexual orientation known, and the marriage stance could cause division along North-South lines, as well as between liberals and conservatives.