Gay bishop Nicholas Chamberlain backed by the Church of England
A Bishop in the Church of England has become the first to publicly declare he is in a gay relationship.
Nicholas Chamberlain, the Bishop of Grantham, made the announcement after a Sunday newspaper threatened to expose his private life.
He maintained he had made no secret about his long-term, but celibate, relationship.
"It was not my decision to make a big thing about coming out," he told the Guardian newspaper.
"People know I'm gay, but it's not the first thing I'd say to anyone. Sexuality is part of who I am, but it's my ministry that I want to focus on."
Bishop Chamberlain said that he understood the news would create "ripples" in the church, with conservative members in the Anglican community seeing it as a move away from traditional values.
Having been consecrated in November last year, he insisted he had not misled anyone and senior members of the church were aware of his sexuality.
"Those making the appointment knew about my sexual identity," he said.
During his appointment process, Bishop Chamberlain said: "We explored what it would mean for me as a bishop to be living within those guidelines."
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby defended his decision. "I have been fully aware of Bishop Nick's long-term, committed relationship," he said.
"His appointment as Bishop of Grantham was made on the basis of his skills and calling to serve the church in the diocese of Lincoln. He lives within the bishops' guidelines and his sexuality is completely irrelevant to his office."
Christopher Lowson, the senior bishop who appointed Chamberlain, said: "I am satisfied now, as I was at the time of his appointment, that Bishop Nicholas fully understands, and lives by, the House of Bishops' guidance on issues in human sexuality.
"For me, and for those who assisted in his appointment, the fact that Bishop Nicholas is gay is not, and has never been, a determining factor."