Archbishop asks to meet TV presenter over LGBT criticism

The Archbishop of Canterbury addressing Lambeth 2022.(Photo: Lambeth Conference)

The Archbishop of Canterbury has asked to meet gay TV presenter Sandi Toksvig after she criticised his comments on homosexuality at the Lambeth Conference.

Differences over homosexuality have cast a shadow over the Lambeth Conference, a meeting of 650 bishops taking place this week in Canterbury, Kent.

The Great British Bake Off co-host criticised Archbishop Justin Welby in an open letter after he wrote to Anglican bishops to "affirm that the validity of the resolution passed at the Lambeth Conference 1998, 1:10 is not in doubt". 

Lambeth 1.10 is a resolution upholding heterosexual marriage and rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture. 

Archbishop Welby also spoke of the "need" to acknowledge that "the majority" of Anglican provinces "continue to affirm that same-gender marriage is not permissible".

In her letter, Toksvig said she had received several death threats over the years because of her sexuality. 

She said that the Archbishop was making "a horrible mistake" and that "the lives of LGBTQ+ people are at stake here". 

"It was a sin in 1998 and you just wanted to make clear in 2022 that no one in your finely frocked gang has moved on from that," said Toksvig in her letter published to Twitter on Wednesday.

"Seriously, with the state the world is in, that is what you wanted to focus on?"

She added, "Jesus doesn't mention sexuality at all. It clearly wasn't a big deal for him."

Toksvig said she is hosting a concert at a Church of England church this weekend to raise funds for Ukrainians affected by the war. She concludes her letter by vowing never to set foot in an Anglican building again until "you decide to welcome all of 'God's children' on equal footing". 

In a letter of reply, Welby said he would love to sit down over coffee with the TV presenter to discuss the issue. 

"The hatred and threats that you - and so many other LGBTQI+ people - have experienced in the name of Jesus Christ are a sin," he said. 

"I have absolutely no doubt about that and want you to be in no doubt of my position. 

"The Church of England agrees with this view and vigorously opposes conversion therapy." 

The letter goes on to say that the Anglican Communion is "a complicated global group of churches" and that there are "deep differences in many areas". 

"This week we have been honest about the differences and nevertheless accept each other," the Archbishop said.