Gay dean offers olive branch to Lord Tebbit after 'sodomite' slur

A gay cleric, who was the subject of Lord Tebbit's ire after he was appointed dean of St Edmundsbury Cathedral, has said he bears no 'ill will' towards the former Conservative party chairman.

The peer sparked outrage after he said he would boycott services conducted by Canon Joe Hawes, branding him a 'sodomite'.

WikipediaLord Tebbit is a former Conservative Party chairman and peer in the House of Lords.

The 87-year-old Tory grandee said: 'I find it difficult to accept a sodomite as a member of the clergy who will, for example, be called upon to conduct marriage services. I will struggle to attend if he is officiating.'

He added: 'The cathedral has taken this decision and I disapprove of it but I do not wish to damage the cathedral in any way. I will maintain my financial support for it every year because it will be there long after the dean and I are gone.

'I just don't see how he can decently read the marriage service. I stand by what is written in the Bible, which is the basis on which the cathedral was built. It says the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by God.

'It cannot be a sin to be born homosexual. It is what one is. What I can't accept is the activity. I use the expression sodomite,' he said according to the Mail on Sunday

But Canon Hawes, who is in a civil partnership with Rev Chris Eyden, the vicar at All Saints' in Putney, said he feels 'absolutely no ill will' towards Lord Tebbit following his controversial comments.

'The messages of support we have received from St Edmundsbury and Fulham testify to the extent to which the Church and the world have moved on from a place where such language has any relevance,' he said according to the East Anglian Times

'I have always admired the way in which Lord Tebbit has cared for his wife with such devotion following the Brighton bomb and I have been looking forward to getting to know them when I arrive in St Edmundsbury and offering what support I could.'

Canon Hawes will be installed as dean at a service on July 14.

John Howard, spokesman for the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, said: 'Under pastoral guidance issued in 2005 it has been clear for more than a decade that clergy are entitled to be within civil partnerships.'