Belfast Telegraph

Same-sex marriage ruling 'outrageous', says ousted Presbyterian Church elder

Steven Smyrl and husband Roy
Steven Smyrl and husband Roy
Allan Preston

By Allan Preston

A Presbyterian Church elder who was dismissed for being in a same-sex marriage has said he felt "bullied and harassed" after he lost an appeal.

Steven Smyrl (53) lives in Dublin with his husband Roy (60), and has warned the Presbyterian Church in Ireland that it is shutting out dedicated members.

"I'm not going to leave the church, but I've heard from many people in the past few days who told me they have left or will leave," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"I had one person who is a Presbyterian minister and told me their child was gay. They're entirely supportive of them, but the church response to them has really upset them.

"It appears that the Presbyterian Church is saying that anybody who is an elder is not allowed to have any thoughts of their own.

"It's outrageous for a church that prides itself in being the conscience of the individual."

Mr Smyrl said he felt left in the dark for six months after he was told he would face a Church judicial commission, which he likened to the Spanish Inquisition.

"I found out they had been sent a blank email with pictures of me with Roy, as evidence I was in a same-sex relationship. I felt sick to my stomach."

The Presbyterian Church denied Mr Smyrl's bullying allegations, and said its decision was in line with its position that same-sex marriage is not compatible with being a church elder.

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