Thinking Anglicans

Lambeth Conference: discrimination criticism continues

We reported previously on this matter, first here, and later on hereand then also here.

The statement issued by the University as previously reported, has generated criticism locally.

The Student Union at the university published this.

We are deeply disappointed that the Lambeth Conference has decided to exclude same-sex spouses from its 2020 conference. This is not a value that we expect to see on campus and we are committed to championing inclusivity in all events.

We appreciate that the University has a commercial arm to its operations and we understand that the Lambeth Conference may be relying on a legal exemption in the Equality Act 2010 to support its stance. However, we believe any externally organised event which occurs on campus should respect the diversity of both students and staff, the values of the University, Kent Union and the environment that they want to utilise. We believe that the University should ensure this at all times. We are asking students to send us their views on the issue and presenting these to the University and we will be writing to the Lambeth Conference, where our efforts need to be focused, urging them to change their stance.

The local newspaper reported: University of Kent called ‘spineless’ after agreeing to host Lambeth Conference banning gay spouses:

The university of Kent has come under fire for hosting an Anglican conference excluding same-sex couples.

Its Canterbury campus will be the venue for next year’s Lambeth Conference, a meeting of bishops and their spouses from around the world which takes place every ten years.

But students have called the decision “shocking” and “spineless” after it emerged gay bishops, who are joining the assembly for the first time, were personally told by the Archbishop of Canterbury that their spouses are banned from the event.

The university has said the conference, which costs £4,950 per person to attend, is lawful because of a loophole in the Equality Act applying to religious organisations.

It has argued that while it would not “apply such a prohibition to any event we were running directly”, it has to respect its clients’ wishes provided they are legal…

The website LGBTQ Faith UK  has published this: Gay bishops, legal discrimination and the Lambeth Conference.  This contains a detailed discussion of the whole saga so far. And it continues with this:

…It has been questioned whether this discriminatory treatment is legal in this country. The Lambeth Conference is a charity that is registered in the UK, charity number 1121679. This means that the Lambeth Conference is subject to UK law, specifically the 2010 Equality Act. The Equality Act allows some exemptions (Schedule 23 paragraph 2) and it looks like the Lambeth Conference comes under this, so it would be legal to discriminate. However, if this were challenged, they would have to show that excluding same sex spouses is necessary to comply with ‘the doctrine of the Organisation’ or ‘the strongly held religious convictions of a significant number of the religion’s followers’. While the religious conviction part might be true worldwide, I doubt it is the case in the UK. I think that, unfortunately, only the two bishops or their same sex spouses would have the legal standing to bring a case to test this legally.

The question of same sex marriage is not contained in any of the creeds nor is it in any of the authorised liturgies of the Church of England which means that Lambeth resolution I.10 does not have the status of doctrine. Lambeth resolutions are not mandatory and have to be adopted by each province individually. By specifically relying on Lambeth I.10, Dr Idowu-Fearon may be ruling out an exemption based on doctrine, because he is showing that the basis of the exclusion is something other than doctrine…

…What we appear to be seeing in the preparations for Lambeth 2020 is GAFCON inspired ideology, in line with their priorities and structured to idealise opposite sex marriage. This is not in accordance with the equality values of the English people that the Church of England is established to serve.

In order to be able to be registered as a charity, it is necessary to show that the organisation has ‘public benefit’. I checked out the Lambeth Conference’s statement of public benefit with the charity commission website. The third and final paragraph of the public benefit statement says

Most people are likely to become disciples of Jesus if Christians live a Christ like life amongst them, share the good news of Jesus, demonstrate God’s love and prayerfully expect the Spirit’s power to transform individuals, communities and whole nations.’

I fail to see how the exclusion of same sex spouses is living a Christ like life and I seriously doubt this will encourage anyone in this country to become a disciple of Jesus.

I would like to know how those organising the 2020 Lambeth Conference will live up to their own public benefit statement.

36
Leave a Reply

avatar
3000
11 Comment threads
25 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
18 Comment authors
Cynthia KatsarelisAnglican, private to protect my priest and churchLaurie RobertsBernard RandallHighchurchwomannotflourishing Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify of
Susannah Clark
Guest

As I have argued before, but re-stating because of the attention now being paid to the University of Kent: The University of Kent should have its own policies with regard to the Equality Act, and should follow them. If they are hosting an organisation that contravenes the principles the University stands on… actually the Law of the Land… then they have at least 2 basic choices: 1. Collaborate with the organisation in its exclusion of people because they are in legal gay marriages, and take the money. 2. Explain to the organisation that this is not the British way, and… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Let’s hope the student union and wider pubic opinion will turn up the heat on the university with regard to hosting Lambeth as a discriminatory event. It could give the phrase “dire consequences” a whole new, and ironic, sense.

Cynthia Katsarelis
Guest

The reasoning of LGBTQ Faith UK seems sound. It certainly addresses issues that I’ve been wondering about. Thank you for posting it!
Blessings on the students who are speaking out about the kind of campus and world that they want, one without LGBTQ discrimination.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

As I thought—the argument from the Equality Act 2010, subjected to independent analysis, begins to look weak. Excluding same-sex spouses is obviously not a matter of doctrine. The Lambeth Conference has no doctrine; and even if it did, the Archbishop is already inviting same-sex married bishops, so he’s conceded that point. Do the strongly held convictions of followers _outside the UK_ justify an exemption in UK law that permits spouses to be excluded, but not bishops? If they do, then did Parliament know in 2010 that that is what it was voting for? And does the Parliament now think that… Read more »

peterpi -- Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi -- Peter Gross

The ABC’s office has created a tangled web (and I go no further) in its desire to accommodate the GAFCON arm of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and is now ensnaring others in it. And, yes, Suzannah Clark, GLBT spouses are being asked to take it on the chin, make a sacrifice for the greater whole, be grateful that their partners are being invited at all, etc. ad nauseam. I mean, GLBT folks ought to be grateful that those attendees opposed to same-sex marriage, or GLBT people — period — are going to be on the same island as GLBT bishops… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

Just ever more ammunition for revisionists. As I have stated elsewhere, an own goal by the ACO and organisers. The AC is fractured already so whether a few extra provinces do or do not attend on the basis of this conditional invitation rule will make little difference. I suspect some uninvited spouses will attend anyway, even if in the margins. They will be welcomed by some churches, will generate publicity, and whole issue will be the new Lambeth 1:10.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Now that is a very cool headed and philosophical perspective.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“They will be welcomed by some churches, will generate publicity, and whole issue will be the new Lambeth 1:10.”
Ah, but will they be welcomed at the Buckingham Palace garden party?
Or will the Queen disinvite same-sex spouses too?
For the 1998 party, see https://www.anglicannews.org/news/1998/07/lambeth-conference-takes-day-trip-to-london.aspx

Kate
Guest
Kate

The University of Kent is required by Statute to have a freedom of speech policy. You can read it at http://www.kent.ac.uk/governance/policies-and-procedures/documents/freedom-of-speech-code.pdf. If you read it, this policy applies to external conferences on University premises. My personal opinion is that same sex spouses, by complete exclusion, are being denied their freedom of speech at Lambeth 2020, notably their freedom to express the view that same sex marriage is not sinful. The LGBTQ Faith UK piece might be right that excluding same sex spouses from Lambeth 2020 isn’t unlawful. Even if not unlawful, could the exclusion still be a breach of booking… Read more »

T Pott
Guest
T Pott

Freedom of Speech can hardly be stretched to an entitlement for all and sundry to turn up at any conference, meeting or event they like, and then address it on whatever subject they please.

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

I’m not sure that the fact that the Kent code explicitly includes booking on a commercial basis helps the ACO, actually. Pace T Pott, what it basically says is that provided you don’t break the law or make a nuisance of yourself, the university will make available facilities for you to ride your political or religious hobby horse on the same basis as it would if you wanted the space to hold an meeting of a Linux users’ group (not that those are free of political or religious debate, of course). I’ve looked at some other universities’ policies, including my… Read more »

Bernard Randall
Guest
Bernard Randall

I’m not clear that the Lambeth Conference is subject to the Equality Act, since it isn’t providing a service to anyone from the public. Could anyone point to which section of the Act is actually being contravened for me, please?
And if the University were to refuse or cancel the booking, wouldn’t it be breaking the Equality Act by discriminating against a religious group? The protections don’t only work one way.

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“And if the University were to refuse or cancel the booking, wouldn’t it be breaking the Equality Act by discriminating against a religious group?” It might. And if the CofE or the ACO wishes to bring an Equalities Act action against the University of Kent on the grounds of insufficient respect for their right to be homophobes, let them. The university would argue that it has a duty to its students and staff to protect them from homophobic harassment, and that duty overrides the right of homophobes to purchase facilities (the arguments that universities should encourage free speech does not… Read more »

Bernard Randall
Guest
Bernard Randall

I really can’t see that the university would be able to argue what you suggest in court. The university only has a duty to prevent its employees harassing anyone. The employees presumably aren’t expected to be doing anything of that kind. The duty is “not to harass,” not “to protect from harassment.” And how is the Lambeth Conference harassing anyone? To have, and act on, a lawful opinion on marriage can hardly be harassment or abuse, otherwise it wouldn’t be lawful. Yet as part of Canon Law it is also part of the Law of the land. Or make a… Read more »

Fr Andrew
Guest
Fr Andrew

Which religious group would it be discriminating against then? Not Anglicans, because the people who are being excluded for being married LGBT •are* Anglicans. So is it not the case that by accepting this booking the university is discriminating against both LGBT people and progressive Anglicans? This is not ‘Christians vs gays’, this is bigoted christians vs affirming ones, and as such the university should not be afraid of cancelling this booking.

Bernard Randall
Guest
Bernard Randall

Like it or not, the official doctrine of the CofE is that marriage is only male-female (see the Pemberton Tribunal for legally binding affirmation of this fact); this is also the position of the Lambeth Conference itself (the infamous Lambeth 1.10). Whichever group is being considered, whichever legally made the booking, its official position is clear. The discrimination would be against a religious group on the basis of its religious doctrines, and that would be unlawful. Do we really want a world where religious groups can be discriminated against simply because we disagree with some of their teachings? I know… Read more »

Fr Andrew
Guest
Fr Andrew

Like it or not, this is not a Church of England conference. It’s the Anglican Communion where , in various provinces, e.g. USA, Canada marriage is not defined in the England way.

Fr Andrew
Guest
Fr Andrew

And doesn’t excluding people exit the realm of ‘speech’ and become action? Whereas I wouldn’t seek to prevent people having their beliefs I wouldn’t scruple about preventing them putting those beliefs into action if that action is harmful, demeaning or discriminatory, as is the case here.

Bernard Randall
Guest
Bernard Randall

You’re right that it is the Anglican Communion as a whole (I’m not sure what body has actually made the booking), but the Communion is in line with the CofE – hence those provinces which have moved towards liturgy for same-sex marriage have come under various forms of discipline. I can’t see any court concluding that Anglican doctrine (as opposed to TEC, ACC) is not clear on this. That there is dissent within the body does not prevent those acting on behalf of the body to come down on one side or the other, surely? There is surely very little… Read more »

Fr Andrew
Guest
Fr Andrew

Deliberately excluding a spouse sounds like psychological violence to me. I don’t think there’s much balance here, or in the bakery case etc. The question to ask when balancing competing protected characteristics is, ‘who is most likely to be harmed?’ If the law were changed to say, in all circumstances religious or not same sex spouses must not be excluded where other sex spouses are not, is the effect on Justin Welby in any way similar to that of an excluded LGBT spouse? I think not. He hasn’t been treated as a second class human, he’s just not been allowed… Read more »

Bernard Randall
Guest
Bernard Randall

Andrew, I understand where’s you’re coming from, I think, but I don’t think we can get to the same place. I don’t think balancing rights is about “who is most likely to be harmed?” at all. Isn’t it more a case of, “given that someone’s rights will be infringed, what is a tolerable level of harm before we take away a person’s rights?” The presumption is that taking away a right is a serious harm in itself, and ought to be avoided if at all possible. You ask about the effect on Justin Welby. I can’t actually speak for him… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

“The Equality Act has to balance these two protected characteristics…” Clearly. The original letter from the University of Kent adopted that position. Now, however, blow back at the university together with the framing of ‘significant ethical issues” by the university, means a pivot toward public relations, in favour of same sex spouses and to the disadvantage of the ABC/ACO, so an ACO/ABC Pyrrhic legal victory with a P.R. black eye.

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

I hope no-one in GAFCON is shaping up to attempt to re-fight, or encourage the re-fighting of, “I don’t want gays in my B&B” in reverse. In reality, in the unlikely event that the University of Kent were to refuse to honour the ACO’s booking on the grounds of equalities policies or legislation, not even the ACO is stupid enough to attempt an “our religious rights to discriminate are being impinged on by this company’s refusal to provide us the service they would provide to other people” court case. Paul Diamond need not clear his diary. In any event, the… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

In the report from the Students of Kent University we have this paragraph: “The argument is that they are worried that certain bishops won’t come if same-sex partners come. Then let the homophobes stay at home. If some bishops want to go to a homophobic conference, they should start up their own miserable conference.” What the student body may not know is that the dissidents in the Anglican Communion already have their alternative conference venue. It is called ‘GAFCON’. And, in my not so humble opinion, their anti-LGBTQI deliberations should be strictly reserved for their own meetings and not brought… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“What the Church needs at this point in its history, is the firm determination to include all God’s children, not only those who pass the puritanical guidelines the Church insists upon.” I have argued in the past that it is unfair to tar the Church of England with the bigotry of its worst members. But in this case, this is the Church of England acting corporately in all but the most legalistic reading. And the CofE is wrong coming and going. If you believe the Lambeth Conference is organised by the CofE, then it is behaving abominably. Ah, you say,… Read more »

John Bunyan
Guest
John Bunyan

Again, I for one object to the continued false assertion that all those who believe that Christian marriage can only be between a man and a woman (the majority of the world’s people) are all bigots and homophobic. This is simply NOT true. (And I support legal civil unions.) This intolerant language wins no-one. ( I myself should prefer an Anglican congress with representative lay people, deacons, presbyters, and bishops present. But since we have a Lambeth Conference, of great value especially to the poorer parts of the Communion, even if it is over-weighted with mostly wealthy US bishops of… Read more »

Cynthia Katsarelis
Guest

It is homophobic to tell me that my marriage isn’t Christian. Sorry, I know that you want to think that that position is viable, but it isn’t. We’ve been together for 28 years, through thick and thin, and got married in our Episcopal parish because we revere the sacraments, and believe in all the sacraments for all the Baptized (in TEC, marriage is one of the sacraments of the church). It is demeaning, harsh, and ugly to be attacked and to have your marriage attacked, for who you are. Especially when we know we are blessed by our Creator. I… Read more »

Fr Andrew
Guest
Fr Andrew

John, I’m not interested in ‘winning’ anyone, because my God-given sexual orientation is not a debate. Equality is a right not something to be ‘won’ from the majority. Every time we ‘tone it down’ so we don’t upset the conservatives we’re telling ourselves that we’re not good enough, we don’t deserve what they have and I for one have had enough of that. We’re not second-class people, our love is not second-class: why should we have to settle for second-class marriage?

To repeat, LGBT people don’t have to justify themselves to conservatives. Period.

Cynthia Katsarelis
Guest

Hear, hear, Father Andrew!

Highchurchwomannotflourishing
Guest
Highchurchwomannotflourishing

Well said Fr Andrew.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

No, I think denying Christian marriage to same-sex couples is homophobic. And I strongly suspect that this is what most people in the UK think.
The culture has its values, and the Church of England is now being held to account for violating them.
Just so we’re clear: some biblical passages are homophobic as well.

Laurie Roberts
Guest
Laurie Roberts

You have a ‘legal civil union’ if you wish.

Cynthia Katsarelis
Guest

Legal civil union isn’t the sacrament of marriage, held in your parish home surrounded by your faith community. Denying us that is homophobic. Fortunately, in TEC, we were able to marry in our home parish and it created an explosion of joy in the parish.

Anglican, private to protect my priest and church
Guest
Anglican, private to protect my priest and church

Exactly. This has been my experience too. The sheer explosion of joy. With all due respect to those who cherish their legal civil unions, for us it didn’t cut it. For the exact positive reasons of faith you describe, for us a civil union or even a civil wedding in a registry office would have meant little more than paying a gas bill or signing a schedule when you buy a car. If you’re a Christian, and you are loved by your community, and if you want to be open and given before God as you make your vows, and… Read more »

Cynthia Katsarelis
Guest

Beautiful. Blessing right back at ya’, and explosions of joyful prayers from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.