Showing posts with label England. Show all posts
Showing posts with label England. Show all posts

August 31, 2019

The Rejection of Gay Asylum Seekers Claims Shows The Anti Gay Attitudes in England



                                       Image result for homophobic england



An immigration judge in the United Kingdom has caused a storm amongst LGBT rights activists after he rejected an asylum seeker’s claims that he was gay. Whilst full details of the case have not been revealed, the asylum seeker, according to reporting from the Guardian newspaper, claimed he was fleeing his country due to fears for his own safety. The judge denied the application for asylum in the first-tier immigration tribunal in London because the man did not have a gay “demeanor.” The claimant’s barrister compared the ruling to “something from the 16th century,” with LGBT activists voicing their disapproval. But what does this case tell us of the treatment of LGBT asylum seekers, and is it indicative of the Brexit-torn country’s future immigration stance?
The stereotyping of gay men during the 1980s and 1990s, fuelled by homophobic government legislation and media coverage, resulted in a societal fear of gay men and the broader LGBT community.

Hadley Stewart 
Writer, broadcaster, and journalist
Gay men face the death penalty in 14 countries across the world. The European Union is comparatively accepting of LGBT people on the global stage, yet lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-Europeans continue to face other forms of prejudice and discrimination in their daily lives. According to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, the UK is ranked eighth in the EU in terms of LGBT rights. The country remains a popular place for LGBT people to settle from continental Europe and further afield. So it is perhaps unsurprising that such an outdated view of LGBT people being expressed in a court of law has caused a stir amongst activists and human rights defenders. 
The judge exemplified why he thought the claimant was lying about his sexuality. The claimant’s witness - also a gay man - wore lipstick to court. The judge commented on this, suggesting that claimant’s appearance did not mirror that of other gay men. Moreover, the judge said that the witness had an “effeminate way of looking around the room” and that he was able to demonstrate his sexuality by his membership of an LGBT organization.
It is baffling that a judge would make such comments, which are deep-rooted in stigma towards gay men. These comments have no place in a court of law, nor in our society, and suggesting that somebody should “prove” their sexuality is nonsensical. In fact, I would argue that it mirrors practices in countries where homosexuality is illegal. Only a few years have passed since the United Nations called on the government of Tunisia to ban doctors practicing forced anal examinations of men who were “suspected” of being gay; practices that were deemed by the intergovernmental organization as a human rights infringement. There is no medical evidence to support claims that such examinations enable authorities to determine somebody’s sexuality.
Whilst the judge’s comments do not equate to these kinds of barbaric practices in countries where it is illegal to be gay, they do set the UK down a slippery slope. The stereotyping of gay men during the 1980s and 1990s, fuelled by homophobic government legislation and media coverage, resulting in a societal fear of gay men and the broader LGBT community. The discourse surrounding the HIV crisis, and the insinuation from Margaret Thatcher that gay men threatened the values of her country, caused the isolation of this group within society. Poor mental health amongst LGBT people is often cited alongside discrimination and societal stigma, demonstrating the negative consequences such comments can have on those who hear them. These views belong in the past and have no place in today’s society.
What’s more, the judge’s comments also raise questions about the attitudes of authorities towards LGBT people. If a judge felt so at ease by making such offensive remarks, it begs the question of the extent to which homophobia can creep into immigration rulings and other Home Office matters. Arguably Prime Minster Johnson calling gay men “tank-topped bumboys” has the potential to give the green light to senior officials to make future comments of this nature, or use offensive views towards minorities to defend everything from court rulings to immigration policies.
The UK is currently going through a challenging time in its history as it attempts to divorce the EU. Whilst I am not suggesting that everybody who voted for Brexit is prejudiced, Brexit certainly caused a seismic shift of the political landscape, with offensive comments oozing through the fault lines. Racist and xenophobic comments seem to have found a rebirth amongst the general public, elected representatives and the media. Global politics, namely the throw-away comments made by President Donald Trump about immigrants, have further galvanized a once quiet minority within British society.
Such discriminatory views about immigration have also spilled across all aspects of society, perhaps in part demonstrated by the number of homophobic hate crimes doubling since 2014, with transphobic hate crimes trebling. This immigration case might be indicative of the need for reform, such as building bridges between courts and LGBT organizations, to ensure LGBT people are being treated fairly by the Home Office.
It is clear that the judge, in this case, lost all objectivity and prioritized his own archaic homophobic views when passing a judgment, which has the potential for devastating consequences for the claimant. Whilst the comments he made raises further questions about the influence of outmoded stigma creeping its way into future rulings, I would argue that they are symptomatic of broader societal unrest. At a time when the UK has never been more divided and lacking in empathy for minority groups, the country is in need of a unifying force to carry it through the next chapter of its history. I fear that the views expressed by the country’s current leadership are only validating such stigmatizing comments.
Hadley Stewart is a London-based writer, broadcaster and journalist.

January 5, 2019

Chelsea Homophobic Supporter Banned to Attending Games For Using Anti Gay Slurs During Premier Game




                  

A Chelsea supporter who pleaded guilty to shouting anti-gay abuse during a Premier League game against Brighton has been banned from attending football matches for three years.

George Bradley, a 20-year-old Blues fan, admitted a charge of using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour to cause harassment during the match at the Amex Stadium on Dec. 16.

He was also fined £965 after appearing at Brighton Magistrates' Court on Thursday. It is not yet clear whether Chelsea will take their own action. 

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A Brighton spokesperson said: "We would like to thank Sussex Police for their assistance in dealing with this unsavoury incident, and we are very pleased with the outcome.

"It underlines both their and our commitment to a zero tolerance policy on any form of abuse from those attending matches at the Amex.

"We would remind all fans that we will not tolerate any form of abusive behaviour at the stadium and will always take the strongest possible action."

Darren Balkham, Sussex Police's football policing officer, added: "Mr Bradley pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity and accepted his behaviour was not acceptable and this was recognised by the court.

"I would urge any supporter attending the Amex to report these incidents to either a steward or police officer to allow us to take action at the time."

Chelsea have pledged to take the strongest possible action against any racist or discriminatory words or actions from their own supporters after a series of damaging incidents in recent weeks.

Last month the Blues announced they had banned four supporters from attending games at Stamford Bridge "pending further investigations" into alleged racist abuse directed at Manchester City star Raheem Sterling during a Premier League match in December.

UEFA are also investigating alleged antisemitic chanting from a minority of travelling Chelsea supporters during a Europa League group game against Vidi -- an incident that a Blues spokesperson said had "shamed the club" -- with a decision on possible punishment expected in mid-January.

ESPN

December 29, 2017

UK Bishop Criticizes Conservative Evangelicals For Uncritical Support of Trump Vs. Poor


Paul Bayes, Bishop of Liverpool, accuses some religious leaders of ‘colluding with a system that marginalizes the poor’



 Church of England, York

 

A senior Church of England bishop has lambasted conservative evangelical Christians in the US for their “uncritical support” of Donald Trump, urging them to reflect on how their endorsement of the president relates to their faith.

Paul Bayes, the bishop of Liverpool, said “self-styled evangelicals” risked bringing the word evangelical into disrepute, and added there was no justification for Christians contradicting God’s teaching to protect the poor and the weak.

Bayes told the Guardian: “Some of the things that have been said by religious leaders seem to collude with a system that marginalises the poor, a system which builds walls instead of bridges, a system which says people on the margins of society should be excluded, a system which says we’re not welcoming people any more into our country. 

 Paul Bayes: ‘If people want to support rightwing populism … how are they going to relate that to their Christian faith?’ Photograph: Rebecca Lupton for the Guardian
“Whenever people say those kinds of things, they need to be able to justify that they’re saying those things as Christians, and I do not believe it’s justifiable.”

He said he regretted that “people who call themselves evangelical in the US seem to be uncritically accepting” positions taken by Trump and his allies.

“Some quite significant so-called evangelical leaders are uncritically supporting people in ways that imply they are colluding or playing down the seriousness of things which in other parts of their lives [they] would see as really important,” Bayes added.

He stressed that not all evangelicals were Trump supporters, saying there were “many, many Christians who are trying to proclaim the gospel as we’ve received it, even if that means political leaders have to be challenged”.

Last month, Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, said he could not comprehend the strength of support for Trump among conservative evangelicals in the US. “I really genuinely do not understand where that is coming from,” he told ITV’s Peston on Sunday programme.

In his Christmas Day sermon at Canterbury Cathedral, Welby criticised “populist leaders that deceive” their people, in comments interpreted as being aimed at Trump. 

According to the Washington-based Pew Research Center, 80% of self-identified white evangelical Christians said they voted for Trump in the 2016 election, and three-quarters have since said they approve of his presidency.

Bayes, who has been bishop of Liverpool since 2014, said: “If people want to support rightwing populism anywhere in the world, they are free to do so. The question is, how are they going to relate that to their Christian faith?

“And if what I believe are the clear teachings of the gospel about love for all, the desire for justice and for making sure marginalized and defenseless people are protected, if it looks as though those teachings are being contradicted, then I think there is a need to say so.”

Bayes was speaking to mark the launch of a new Christian charity, which he is chairing, aimed at eliminating discrimination based on sexuality or gender.

The Ozanne Foundation will work with religious organizations around the world on LGBTI, gender and sexuality issues, as well as conflict resolution and education. It will be led by Jayne Ozanne, a prominent campaigner for equality within the C of E. Along with Bayes, the charity’s trustees and advisers include David Ison, the dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, Jeffrey John, the dean of St Albans, and Martyn Percy, the dean of Christ Church, Oxford. 

Bayes has previously called for the far-reaching change in C of E attitudes to LGBTI people, saying he had been “profoundly changed” by encounters with lesbian and gay Christians, including within his own family. “I have come to believe that we need to change the church,” he said last year.

The Ozanne Foundation would provide “strong and clear advocacy, not only for LGBTI inclusion but against other forms of discrimination and hurt in the church”, he said. “There is room in the church for people who strongly and clearly advocate for change, and I want to support them.”

The church’s “institutional inertia” needed to be countered, Bayes added. “There is no doubt that the church at the moment is on a journey, and that journey needs to arrive at a place of inclusion further on than we are at the moment.

“What matters to me in terms of my own responsibility and my own advocacy is that we don’t settle for second best, that we keep trying to move the organization forward.”

Religion correspondent

November 20, 2017

Ryan Atkin is Now The Fist Out-Gay Athlete in Professional English Soccer







Ryan Atkin Becomes First Openly Gay Professional In English Soccer

“Role models are important—to show that being gay and being interested in football are by no means mutually exclusive," says Ryan Atkin. 





Ryan Atkin, a 32-year-old referee, made history this week as the first openly gay professional in English soccer.
On Tuesday, Atkin oversaw his first game, a National League matchup between Eastbourne Borough and Welling United. The arena only held 4,150 fans, and Eastbourne is five tiers below teams like Manchester United, but his presence was still a milestone. 
“Ryan’s declaration marks an important moment in the game and reinforces the fact that refereeing really is open to everyone,” said Neale Barry, head of senior referee development for the English Football Association (FA).
 
The FA has expressed concerned about the lack of out role models in football, a billion-dollar industry in the UK, and has partnered with Stonewall UK to combat homophobia with initiatives like the Rainbow Laces campaign
“It is slightly behind other sports,” Atkin told ITV, “but [men’s soccer] is getting there and organizations are making big strides.”
In the U.S., women’s soccer stars include Megan Rapinoe and Abby Wambach. And, in 2013, Robbie Rogers became the first out male player on the professional level when he signed on with the L.A. Galaxy.


Atkins says the FA could create a safer atmosphere for gay pros by treating homophobic remarks the same way it does racist ones. “People should be removed from grounds and they should receive bans because it’s exactly the same,” he said. “Why it’s not dealt with the same we don’t know yet, but we will get there eventually.”
In the meantime, he believes the sport is heading in the right direction.
Victor Decolongon/Getty
“Role models are important to show that being gay and being interested in football are by no means mutually exclusive,” he told Sky Sports. “Homophobia is still a problem but things are improving all the time. You can change the game and culture by changing your mind. Referees get a lot of stick for a number of reasons, but their sexual orientation cannot be one of them.”
Atkins says he’s been humbled by all the messages of support he’s received from fans and players so far.
“As we evolve as a society and more people create an environment where they can be themselves,” he said, “[Soccer] will change.”
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August 17, 2017

Ryan Atkin 32, First Gay Referee in Professional Soccer







 A small league soccer pitch in a British coastal town seems an unlikely setting for a giant step forward in soccer equality. 
But when Ryan Atkin steps onto the field at Eastbourne Borough Tuesday, he will become the first openly gay man in English professional soccer — a sign of how far the sport lags behind others in overcoming homophobia despite its vast wealth and corporate support.  
The 32-year-old referee will take charge of the club’s home game against Welling United. It is a National League game, five tiers below the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea, and the venue only holds 4,150 fans — but English soccer’s ruling body knows it marks a significant milestone. 
“Ryan's declaration marks an important moment in the game and reinforces the fact that refereeing really is open to everyone,” said Neale Barry, head of senior referee development at The FA. 
There are thousands of gay male soccer players and fans worldwide, many of them playing for the 100-plus amateur or semi-professional teams registered with the International Gay & Lesbian Football Association (IGLFA)
In the U.S, the MLS recorded its first openly gay male professional soccer player in 2013 when Robbie Rogers returned to L.A. Galaxy. 
However, the glitzy top tiers of the English sport — dominated by billions of dollars in TV revenues, corporate sponsorship and global merchandising — have remained stubbornly free of openly gay players or officials. Even the number of retired players disclosing their sexuality remains tiny. 
The lack of LGBT role models has been a concern The FA, which along with some major clubs has joined forces with Stonewall for initiatives including the Rainbow Laces campaign to stamp out casual homophobia at games. 
It is a stark contrast to women’s soccer, where the U.S. has been represented by prominent out stars such as midfielder Megan Rapinoe and striker Abby Wambach. The latter is not only the highest all-time U.S. scorer — chalking up 184 goals — but also holds the world international goal record for both female and male soccer players.  
It also lags behind other sports such as NFL, to which Michael Sam was drafted in 2014, and NBA where Jason Collins made history in 2013 as the first openly gay player in the four major U.S. sports leagues. 
“It is slightly behind other sports but [men’s soccer] is getting there and organizations are making big strides,” Atkin told Britain’s ITV ahead of Tuesday’s game. “Counties bidding for major tournaments must have LGBT policies in place and is it’s sad that Russia and others don’t have that.” 
He added: “[Soccer] … will change gradually over time. As we evolve as a society and more people create an environment where they can be themselves, [soccer] will change.” 
Image: Ryan Atkin
Ryan Atkin Sky Sports
Part of the problem has been attributed to the sport’s global appeal, including in many countries were homosexuality is still taboo or even illegal. 
One step forward, Atkin said, would be to treat homophobia as seriously as racism — especially when it comes to crowds of fans. 
“If people are making homophobic marks it should be the same as racist remarks, they should be removed from the ground and receive bans,” he said. 
Nevertheless Atkin was looking forward to Tuesday’s landmark game. 
“I want to be judged as a referee not as a gay referee, I want to be respected on the pitch,” he said, adding that he was “humbled” and “overwhelmed” by worldwide messages of support from fans and players. 
“When you are yourself, you perform better,” he said. 
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August 2, 2017

Gay Men Still Get Persecuted and Abused in England and Wales






James and Dain after the attack 

Fifty years ago, gay sex between men in private was decriminalised in England and Wales. Despite this, hate crimes against gay people have persisted, and the number of attacks recorded by police has been rising. There were 7,194 in England and Wales in the year to April 2016. Campaigners say this isn't the full picture, though, as many victims still don't report assaults. Six people affected by hate crimes share their stories. 
Warning: This story contains details of violence and images which some readers might find upsetting.
James and Dain were enjoying a night out together in Brighton in May 2016 when they were followed out of a nightclub and attacked on the seafront. The assault has left physical and emotional scars.
James: We were at the bar and we got this look from a couple of guys from across the dance floor. It takes a lot to make me feel uncomfortable but it was just such a weird look they gave us. Dain had his arm around me. I don't think they liked that. Then they started shouting at us. I told Dain we needed to get out of the club into a taxi the quickest way possible. 
Dain: We left the bar. No-one was about. All of a sudden I heard running behind us. There was no way we were going to outrun them. They grabbed us from behind and chucked us to the floor. I was lying on the pavement and all I could see was James but the next thing I saw was a shoe coming towards my face. That knocked me completely unconscious. 
James: One of the boys started kicking Dain's face really rapidly. There was a lot of aggression and shouting of "gay boys". Every time I tried to crawl closer to Dain, I was dragged along the pavement. At that point, a taxi drove past and called the police. I remember standing up for the first time and Dain looked at me and said, "I can't see." 
Dain's facial injuries after the attackDain: My eye socket was completely shattered. I had haemorrhages in both my eyes and fractures on my cheeks. My tooth was chipped and my nose was broken as well. I remember being in hospital and kept asking, "Am I going to be able to see again?" They said, "We can't tell you because everything is so swollen." They couldn't even open my eyes. 


Image copyrightDain in hospital after the attack

James and I were very close anyway but spending that much time with each other really proved to me how strong our relationship is. I'm a very resilient person and I'm not going to live my life how someone else wants me to. I'm not going to let anyone change that. If anything, this has made me want to be who I am even more. 
James: It's made him stronger and it's made him not care about what other people think and to go out there and be himself even more, whereas it's done the opposite to me. It's changed me. I've changed my thought process and mindset, how I think, how I look, how I speak, who I'm with, where we go and it's sad because I remember how we were before it happened and I look at us now and it's upsetting because it's them who made this happen. That's what's hard to accept. 
It's a year since it happened and I thought things would probably get easier but they haven't. When we're out and about he wants us to look like we're together obviously but I'm scared of something similar happening again. It wasn't like that a year ago. We didn't go down the street holding hands but I wasn't fully aware of us making sure that we weren't seen as a couple. 
I couldn't ever forgive the people who attacked us or forget what happened. It will stay with me and I'm sure it will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

BBC


  • From the section Magazine

  • Both attackers, Gage Vye-Parminter and Matthew Howes, pleaded guilty to grievous bodily harm and assault and were sentenced to seven years in prison.

    July 27, 2017

    Theresa May, On The End of 50 yrs of Gay Persecution and Celebrates the Decriminalization on England, Wales




    On the right there is a scientist and mathematician, modern father of the computer and military codes was forced to be castrated and at the end not able to see others like him committed suicide. On the left a famous gay movie star on his first break, His career was impacted by talks and suspicions about being gay. You could be gay in the studios as long as no one found out. Lives' negatively impacted by England's archaic gay laws. The United States and most of the West was no different.











    The Conservative Party has been "wrong" on gay rights in the past - but can be proud of the role it has played in recent years, Theresa May has said.
    Marking 50 years since the partial decriminalization of homosexuality in England and Wales, the PM said she and the party had both "come a long way".
    Mrs. May said there will "justifiably be skepticism" about the way she voted on some LGBT issues.
    PinkNews also carries comments from the Labour leader and three ex-PMs.
    The Sexual Offences Act was introduced on 27 July 1967 under Harold Wilson's Labour government.
    It decriminalized homosexual acts in private between men aged 21 and over.
    Mrs. May said: "I am proud of the role my party has played in recent years in advocating a Britain which seeks to end discrimination on the grounds of sexuality or gender identity, but I acknowledge where we have been wrong on these issues in the past." 
    As an MP in 1998, Mrs. May voted against reducing the age of consent for homosexual acts from 18 to 16 and four years later opposed allowing gay couples to adopt. 
    She was also absent for several votes affecting LGBT rights - but in 2004 backed civil partnerships, and as a member of the coalition government supported a succession of measures including same sex-marriages.
    She told PinkNews: "There will justifiably be skepticism about the positions taken and votes cast down through the years by the Conservative Party, and by me, compared to where we are now.
    "But like the country we serve, my party and I have come a long way."

    'Long journey'

    Mrs. May's predecessor David Cameron told PinkNews the Same Sex Marriage Act, which legalized gay weddings in England and Wales in 2013, was one of his "proudest achievements".
    "Marriage is a great institution and I have long believed that it should be there for everybody; it now is and Britain led the way," he said.
    Tony Blair said: "We have come a long way over the last 50 years and it's right to celebrate, but while there are still challenges, such as pupils subject to homophobic and transphobic bullying... there is still further to go." Sir John Major said the act was "the start of a long journey that would have been inconceivable in 1967". 
    He said: "We are what fate made us. And, whatever that may be, we are entitled to give and receive affection."
    In a separate article, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the anniversary was a time to "recognize the great strides towards equality that have been made".
    He said: "I am proud of the role the Labour Party played in these advances... but this progress is not down to MPs in Parliament... these achievements belong first and foremost to the LGBT community who have persevered against prejudice for many years."
    Mr. Corbyn also urged the prime minister to stand up "in the strongest terms" to US President Donald Trump on LGBT issues, saying he had "incited hatred and discrimination".
    BBC Uk

    July 23, 2017

    Shakespeare Was Gay and Most of His Sonnets Written to Men







    {Introduction}
    adamfoxie.blogspot.com does not publish rumors. The story of William Shakespeare being gay has been tumbling around for many years. This blog is been publishing since 2009 and we have not published about this before because we were not sure. The publisher of this blog believes that the evidence is turned towards the probability of being true. This is why we are publishing this now.  
     If people that are experts of his sonnets (this blog is not one, unfortunately) say most of them were written in one direction towards other men, that is enough evidence for the Publisher to agree. 

    He’s one of the most famous Brits of all time – but mystery surrounds the personal life of William Shakespeare.
    We know that Britain’s greatest playwright married Anne Hathaway and had three children, but many believe that the Bard was secretly gay. 

    And now the artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company – so, a man who definitely knows what he is talking about – has waded into the controversy.
    Greg Doran also believes Shakespeare could have been gay. 

    He told BBC Radio 4’s Today program: ‘I guess a growing understanding of Shakespeare as I have worked with him over the many years that I have, makes me realize that his perspective is very possibly that of an outsider.

    William Shakespeare was gay and wrote his sonnets for men, top theatre director says
    Greg Doran said Shakespeare’s gay characters should not be hidden (Picture: Getty)

    ‘It allows him to get inside the soul of a black general, a Venetian jew, an Egyptian queen or whatever and that perhaps that outsider perspective has something to do with his sexuality.’
    Rumors that the playwright may have preferred the company of men are nothing new, with some historians claiming his sonnets were actually written for men.

    This was echoed by Mr. Doran, who said 126 of Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets are addressed to a man and not a woman. 

    Mr. Doran also said directors should not hide the sexuality of gay characters including Antonio in The Merchant of Venice, who is ‘absolutely clearly in love with the young man Bassanio and sometimes that is kind of toned down’.

    He said their love had instead been depicted as ‘we chaps are very fond of each other’.
    He added: ‘It’s not, it’s clearly a very particular portrait of a gay man and I think in the 21st century it’s no longer acceptable to play that as anything other than a homosexual.’






    May 1, 2017

    Church of England is Institutionally Homophobic, Says Vicar






    The first Church of England vicar to marry a same-sex partner has accused the church of being "institutionally homophobic".
    He made the comments after he was told he would not get a new parish when he leaves his existing one in London.

    The Reverend Andrew Foreshew-Cain is leaving his congregation in West Hampstead as he is moving to the Peak District with his husband.

    He said he felt under constant pressure being a gay man working in the Church.
    Speaking to BBC Radio 5 live’s Stephen Nolan, he said: "The people of the Church of England, the worshipping congregations up and down the country are amazing people who worship and serve their local communities and do tremendous amounts of good in lots of places and for the most part they are welcoming and accepting of the LGBTI community.

    "The problem is with the leadership of the Church which maintains and promotes policies and practices which are discriminatory against LGBTI people."
    He added: “There's this constant pressure of being a gay man working for the Church of England, in an institution which is institutionally homophobic and has policies and attitudes towards the LGBT community which are harmful."

    Father Foreshew-Cain has been a vicar for 27 years and is the vicar of St Mary with All Souls, Kilburn, and St James in West Hampstead.

    He has told his congregation he plans to leave in July as his husband is now working 200 miles away.
    He said after he married in 2014, he received a letter from his bishop saying he would not be allowed to work in another job within the Church.

    "That's discrimination and in any other part of the world that would be illegal," he said.
    A spokesperson for the diocese of London said: “Andrew Foreshew-Cain is currently a member of the clergy in the Diocese of London.

    “We understand that he has plans to move to Manchester for personal reasons but the diocese has not received his resignation at this time.”



    September 9, 2016

    Gay Vicar Says Church of England “An Embarrassing Mess!”



     Foreshew-Cain (right) married his long-term partner, Stephen, (left) last June.






    This week the Church of England found itself in a very publicly difficult situation about sexuality—again.

    At the end of August, Bishop Nicholas Chamberlain, the Bishop of Grantham, came out as the first openly gay bishop with a partner. To those of us in the LGBTI community within the Church this wasn’t a surprise; we had all known for a long time.

    But it has proved to be troublesome for the Church, which had chosen to purposefully conceal his relationship (Bishop Nic has always been open, if not public, about his sexuality.) When a new bishop is appointed there is an official biography and usually it includes some personal facts to paint a human picture—of the wife or husband, the children and pets, and a few details such as their like of real ale or hill walking. Oddly, these days new bishops all seem to like hill walking. 

    If you look at Bishop Nic’s biography there is no reference at all to the man with whom he has shared, as he has said, a loving and faithful relationship for 30 years. We now know that the Archbishop of Canterbury knew about this and indeed had them both round for dinner; the Bishop of Lincoln knew, and indeed the press office at Church House knew—it’s just that they couldn’t bear to think that anyone else would know.

    This weekend has also seen the publishing of an open letter from 14 of the married gay and lesbian clergy of the Church of England, and other some married lay people, to our bishops. We wrote to share with them the joy and happiness we have in our married lives, and in the freedom to live with our wives and husbands in public, faithful and lifelong relationships. I had been with my husband for 15 years before we could marry, and being married has made a real difference—somehow the whole relationship feels more solidly grounded and we rejoice in that discovery.

    The official position is that lay people can pretty much do as they please, though the Church ensured that it is impossible for gay couples to legally marry in a Church of England parish and local clergy are banned from offering services of blessing, such as those given to Prince Charles and Camilla after their civil marriage, even if the couple haven’t been involved in a notorious divorce.

    Clergy are allowed to enter civil partnerships, again without a church service afterwards, and have to promise not to have sex with each other. Bishop Nic is not in a civil partnership but has said that he is celibate and in this he is entirely compliant with the current Church rules.

    There has been an attempt at a blanket stop on marriage for gay and lesbian clergy, and those who do are officially disciplined, and a ban placed on them ever getting a new post in the Church. The Church will not consider for ordination anyone who is married to someone of the same sex, no matter how good a priest they might make.

    Yet quietly, clergy are getting married or converting their civil partnerships to marriage; gay ordinands in sexual relationships are getting the nod through while appearing to comply with the selection procedures; and clergy are having sex in their civil partnerships. Priests are offering services of blessing and thanksgiving to gay and lesbian couples and parishes celebrating with them. The bishops all know this, and many even collude in the dishonesty around the current position with private words of support and public obedience to the official line. One recently married priest I know of was invited into the episcopal study, handed his letter of discipline and then the bishop’s wife arrived with two gin and tonics—and as she said “congratulations,” the bishop toasted the new couple. 

    Frankly, it’s a mess and an embarrassing one because everyone knows it’s a mess, and at a fundamental level is making the Church, as the archbishop himself said, look “odd.” Actually, I think it’s worse—the current stance makes us look hypocritical and foolish and undermines our ability to speak with any real authority on other moral issues. While the Church continues to treat the LGBTI community in ways that cause the archbishop sleepless nights in which he is “consumed with horror” we can hardly call out others for their treatment of the poor, the widowed and the orphaned as our faith requires us to do.

    The married clergy wrote to urge the bishops to recognize that this isn’t working. We asked for some honesty and that they allow parishes freedom to celebrate our relationships without fear of retribution or censure. We aren’t expecting wedding bells in our churches just yet, but we do expect to be able to say prayers, offer blessings and to rejoice in the love that brings two people together to make a commitment to each other. We know that some in the Church won’t find this acceptable; there have always been some who find change difficult. But there is no longer a single theology of marriage and relationships in the Church and it is time this was recognized.

    The bishops have banged on for two years about “good disagreement” as being fundamental to the Church’s life and flourishing—it is time for that rhetoric to become reality.


    Andrew Foreshew-Cain is a vicar at St Mary with All Souls, Kilburn, and St James West Hampstead, in north London

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