The Church of England is homophobic, despite Justin Welby's trendy-vicar act | Deborah Orr

The archbishop of Canterbury says he opposes both gay marriage and homophobia – but that just doesn't add up

Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has given an interview to the gay magazine PinkNews. Which is very trendy-vicar of him. He has also said that it was "great" that parliament passed the same-sex marriage bill. Except that that's not what he meant. He meant that it was "great" that parliament makes acts in a general sense. He remains against gay marriage himself. Though he also imagines that he's against homophobia.

Presumably, he thinks "homophobia" is being personally rude and aggressive to gay people because they are gay, but that asking them to kindly observe the "heterosexuals only" sign is fine, as long as one is polite about it. He is wrong. He and his church discriminate against people because of their sexuality, so the Anglican church is homophobic. Since it's an established part of the state, the state is homophobic. In part. It's all a bit of a curate's egg.

The idea we're all supposed to accept is that the Church of England is an innocuous purveyor of spiritual pomp and circumstance, unifying state, crown and church with tradition, ceremony, and most importantly, great outfits, accessories and interiors. Otherwise, all the prelates are off helping their communities as well as they can, marking life and death's big occasions, organising fetes and occasionally mentioning to the government that poverty is miserable. Quite where fighting against the development of a secular morality that seeks to protect the rights of all responsible citizens fits into this is hard to say.

Of course, the Church of England would probably be happy to go with the UK flow, self-preservation having always been its primary concern, were it not for the fact that it wants to preserve its worldwide communion just as much as it wants to preserve its 26 undemocratic places in the House of Lords.

Can it really be right that we have to accept a homophobic established church trying to vote down progressive legislation just because that might upset its really homophobic members overseas? The rest of us have had to come to terms with the fact that the days of empire are over, and also that they might, just might, not have been all they were cracked up to be. Why the Anglican church believes it can and should defy that logic is a mystery that surely can't endure much longer.


Deborah Orr

The GuardianTramp

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