Church of England should allow gay clergy to marry, says bishop

A prominent bishop has called on politicians to force the Church of England to allow its gay clergy to marry.

The Bishop of Buckingham Alan WilsonDiocese of Oxford

Bishop of Buckingham Alan Wilson urged politicians to intervene to the "manifest injustice" where the established Church is permitted to deny marriage to its gay clergy. The Church has also been ring-fenced by the legislation to allow it to refuse ever to allow one of its churches to be used to celebrate a gay wedding.

Any clergy who flout the law and get married in a same-sex wedding face being disciplined by their bishop. Canon Jeremy Pemberton, the first CofE cleric to do so, was denied a licence as a result which meant a chaplaincy job offer was withdrawn.

Bishop Wilson, a long-time advocate of equal rights for gays, said homosexual clergy were subject to "harassment and victimisation".

Debating with deputy prime minister Nick Clegg in a debate on the PinkNews website, Bishop Wilson said: "The legislation around equal marriage contained important protections for the consciences of clergy opposed to marrying gay people.

"However, it contained no protection for the consciences of clergy who want to perform same-sex weddings, or indeed gay clergy who want to marry themselves. These clergy have routinely been subject to harassment and victimisation, and this even led in one instance to an Archbishop blocking someone from a promotion within the NHS.

"Many other licensed clergy are now in fear of their position in public service jobs in which they had felt safe. What plans do our politicians have to remedy this manifest injustice?"

Mr Clegg responded that it was not his place to "tell the Church what they can or cannot do". He did however hope that tolerance will eventually win. He also said he hugely admired church people who support same-sex marriage.