Updated again 29 March
The University of Kent has issued this: University statement on the Lambeth Conference. It reads in part as follows (emphasis added):
…The University has become aware that proposals relating to the Lambeth Conference 2020, which is due to be held at the University, raises serious issues at the heart of these values.
The Lambeth Conference is, of course, a remarkable event and has been held at the University since 1978. When the organisers of the Lambeth Conference 2020 came to the University seeking to work with us again, we were happy to engage. Bringing this gathering of spiritual leaders, from across the globe, to meet, celebrate, debate, learn and reflect, supports our vision of the kind of welcoming, inclusive, civic university we stand for and formal agreement relating to the use of University facilities was reached in August 2018.
It subsequently came to the University’s attention that, on 15 February 2019, the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion made a public announcement on the Anglican Communion News Service website ‘that it would be inappropriate for same sex spouses to be invited to the conference’.
The University was concerned by this announcement, as it does not accord with our values, and determined it would seek further information and discuss the issue at its next meeting of University Council, the University’s governing body. The University has since received a large number of concerns raised by staff, students, and members of the public, about hosting the conference. While we currently understand that the Lambeth Conference may be permitted by law to rely on exemption under the Equality Act 2010 for religious organisations, we also believe there are significant ethical concerns raised. These were discussed at the meeting of University Council on 22 March 2019.
Council members were clear that exclusion of same sex spouses, on grounds of orientation, would be contrary to the values of the University. Council determined that the University shall ensure that accommodation will be available on campus for those spouses affected by this decision who wish to be in Canterbury with their partners during the conference period. The University welcomes them and affirms its belief in, and commitment to, diversity and inclusivity.
The Council also agreed that Sir David Warren, Chair of Council, and Professor Karen Cox, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Kent, would seek to meet with the Lambeth Conference organisers and the Archbishop of Canterbury, to bring Council’s concerns to their attention and discuss the issues.
Sir David Warren, Chair of Council, University of Kent
Professor Karen Cox, Vice-Chancellor and President, University of Kent
Updates Further reports and comment on this:
Surviving Church Lambeth 2020. A clash of values?
…Excluding a small number of same sex spouses might have been, from a pragmatic point of view, a price worth paying to preserve harmony and unity at the 2020 Lambeth gathering in Canterbury. Surely everyone recognises that although a few people might protest, this action is not illegal. The Equality Act of 2010 certainly allows for the Church to make such distinctions between hetero and homosexual partners. This calculation seems to have been a miscalculation and protests began almost immediately it became known. What began as a small nail being lost, started to become a massive headache for the conference organisers. Although it is not uncommon for people to expect a degree of discrimination against gay partnerships in the churches, this attitude is far from universal. One particular factor in the protests and debates that have followed this Anglican decision is the siting of the Lambeth Conference gathering in a university campus. The one segment of the population that will never easily acquiesce in the conservative rhetoric about gay relationships are students. Enormous amounts of money are spent across the world promoting the anti-gay message of the religious Right in the States and countries like Uganda. Very few however among the under-30 generation are impressed by this message and they normally will not tolerate what they see simply as homophobia. Even if church authorities argue their right to discriminate according to the religious exemptions of the Equality Act, students will not stop making their opinions known. These protests have now come to the attention of the most senior members of the University of Kent and they have issued an official statement…