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Church's prejudice towards lesbians 'staggering'

I am an openly gay member of the Church of Ireland and one of the guests who turned up uninvited for the Church's gay conference as I had spent months trying, without success, to ensure there was meaningful gay participation.

Not a single LGBT person worshipping in a CoI parish addressed the gathering. And not a single openly lesbian person was invited to participate.

The depth of prejudice and sheer emotional violence faced by lesbians in the Church of Ireland staggered even me.

In one incident, a woman who had been a pillar of her church was found out to be a lesbian. The woman was summoned alone to a meeting in the church offices to be confronted by a gang of nine, led by her rector. She was told Satan had veiled her eyes, that it was an affront to see her worship God and was forbidden from receiving Holy Communion.

This woman was silenced because her experience of the CoI was too uncomfortable for our leaders to hear, both for the conservatives who think this amounts to 'tough love' and for the moderates who, in the main, have done little to challenge this behaviour.

Silenced with her were the thousands like her who kneel in our pews living in terror that they will be discovered and that discovery will lead to ostracism.

Many clergy boast they would exclude me and people like me from Holy Communion because we love the men or women we do. We are not ashamed of that love.

GERRY LYNCH

Belfast

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