Presbyterian Church in Ireland votes to deny gay people full membership of the church
The children of people in same-sex relationships will not be allowed to be baptised.
The Presbyterian Church in Ireland has voted in favour of a new policy which means anyone in a same-sex relationship cannot be a full member of the church and their children cannot be baptised.
The vote was taken on Friday at the decision-making General Assembly in Belfast.
The decision comes after the church voted to loosen its affiliation with the Church of Scotland over its stance on the issue of same-sex relationships.
The policy is contained in a report by the Church's doctrine committee.
The committee concluded: "In light of our understanding of scripture and the Church's understanding of a credible profession of faith, it is clear that same-sex couples are not eligible for communicant membership nor are they qualified to receive baptism for their children.
"We believe that their outward conduct and lifestyle is at variance with a life of obedience to Christ."
Earlier this week, The Reverend Dr Charles McMullen was elected as moderator of the church in Ireland for the next 12 months.
Alliance Party leader Naomi Long, who is a member of the Presbyterian Church, said her "heart is broken" by the decision.
She wrote on social media: "I can only imagine the hurt this has caused to those from the LGBT community.
"It does not reflect the views of so many of us who love, respect and value you as family, friends and members of our community."
Reacting to the decision, UUP MLA Doug Beattie said: "My word....I can't get my head around this. A reason to exclude is never going to be better than a reason to include."
My word...... I can’t get my head around this. A reason to exclude is never going to be better than a reason to include.😕 https://t.co/Fpyx4FdwQZ— Doug Beattie (@BeattieDoug) June 8, 2018
The Belfast Telegraph has contacted the Presbyterian Church in Ireland for comment.
Belfast Telegraph Digital