Archbishop of Canterbury tells Tatchell that Anglican opposition to gay marriage is not discrimination

A BRIDGE of sorts was built yesterday when the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, broke an Anglican “no dialogue with The Gays” tradition, and agreed to meet human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

Welby and Tachell

Welby and Tachell

But despite Tatchell indicating afterwards that he appreciated having the door of Lambeth Palace opened to him, a gulf still exists.

Archbishop Welby is clearly struggling to reconcile his support for loving, stable same-sex relationships with his opposition to same-sex marriage. I got the impression that he wants to support gay equality but feels bound by Church tradition. He accepts that discrimination is not a Christian value but can’t bring himself to state publicly that banning gay couples from getting married is discrimination and wrong.

The Archbishop told me ‘gay people are not intrinsically different from straight people’ but there is an ‘intrinsic difference in the nature of same-sex relationships’ and this is a sufficient reason to deny gay couples the right to marry, even in civil ceremonies in register offices. When pressed to say why this ‘intrinsic difference’ justified banning same-sex marriage he merely replied: ‘They are just different’.

Tatchell added:

I am hopeful that in time the Archbishop will resolve his moral dilemmas and encourage the church to move closer to gay equality. He struck me as a genuine, sincere, open-minded person, willing to listen and rethink his position.

At the meeting, Tatchell urged the Archbishop to “embrace a new historic compromise and rapprochement with the gay community:” that the church can continue to believe that homosexuality is wrong but that it will agree that homophobic discrimination is also wrong – and actively oppose it.

The Archbishop did not accept that the ban on same-sex civil marriage amounted to discrimination. He told me: ‘I don’t accept the word discrimination’.

Welby said he was “apprehensive” and “cautious” about the “consequences of redefining marriage,” adding that he was unconvinced that it would be to “the advantage of society.”

However he added that in future “marriage may evolve.”

Tatchell also urged Welby to:

Apologise on behalf of the Church of England for the centuries of homophobic persecution it inflicted on gay people. If not an apology, then some expression of remorse and regret.

The Archbishop replied:

I hear what you say. I will need to think about that.

Because of the refusal by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, to discuss gay issues with homosexual rights groups, ten members of OutRage! – including Peter Tatchell – scaled the walls of Lambeth Palace in 1997, hid among the roses and jumped out to confront Carey as he entertained 16 Anglican primates in the garden.

Said Tatchell:

We were protesting over his refusal to dialogue with the gay community and his opposition to an equal age of consent, fostering by gay couples and the legal recognition of same-sex relationships. This time I’m going to Lambeth Palace through the front door at the Archbishop’s invitation. It makes a nice change.

He added:

This is the first time any Archbishop has formally met me. Even a liberal like Rowan Williams never welcomed me to Lambeth Palace. Justin’s invitation is progress.

24 responses to “Archbishop of Canterbury tells Tatchell that Anglican opposition to gay marriage is not discrimination”

  1. David Anderson says:

    Justin welby doesn’t accept the word discrimination, except that is, when he feels his church is being discriminated against.

    Fucking hypocrite.

  2. Broga says:

    @David Anderson: On the other hand Peter Tatchell goes in through the front door and engages in dialogue. The problem is that so many priests don’t believe what they preach and have no conviction about what they say. The equivocation is apparent. They feel trapped an suffocated, by bigots like Carey and assorted other bishops, priests and Daily Mail readers and an anchronistic tradition. We now know, via the secrecy confered by the internet that many are in it to keep their jobs and that stresses them.

    I think Peter Tatchell and Justin Welby have made a move and I hope they have other meetings.

  3. Angela_K says:

    Oilwellsby: “They are just different”.

    Typical response from a religious loon: avoid answering a question by basically saying “because I/my god says so”

    I appreciate Mr Tatchell’s attempt at dialogue with the Archbigot, but I fear it will backfire on the Gay community because Oilwellsby will claim a PR coup.

  4. David says:

    Opposition to gay marriage isn’t discrimination. Yes it is, by definition. If you’re prepared to believe the garbage written in the good book, I guess contradictions are easy.

    And what about this one “They are just different”. Nuff said. Welby is a cock. Why? He just is.

  5. John A says:

    ‘The Archbishop did not accept that the ban on same-sex civil marriage amounted to discrimination. He told me: ‘I don’t accept the word discrimination’.’
    How can it be anything other than discrimination? A clear distinction is being made on the grounds of sexual preference; a difference is being recognised with a different reaction to each case, with one being at a disadvantage to the other. However, the Archbishop does have a very big hat, so he should be taken seriously.

  6. charlie says:

    Oh, so the gays are “just different”? Well, I say celebrate the difference. By the way, I am not gay nor have I had any tendency towards being gay. I do believe in equal human rights for all and that we should treat other as we wish to be treated. I think even the holly bibble makes some comment along that line, or did I “mis-read” that book?
    It is almost comical how a church type claims to not think discrimination IS discrimination, unless he/she feels his/her religion is a “victim” of discrimination that is. Can you say hypocrite? Yes we CAN! Damn I detest such cowards as that Arch bish. Disgusting sort of critter, he’d make a damn fine member of the US “tea party” and/or the NRA here in the US of A.

  7. L.Long says:

    The part I see is they are all about not being contaminated by those evil wemin that caused man’s down fall with all those fluids and blood dripping from the va-ja-ja. This is more of a problem for those fundy-jews & islames then angelcans. I would think that homosex would be a god-send as they would not have touch them anymore.

  8. Trevor Blake says:

    discrimination is not a Christian value.”

    Of course not. Just because Jesus Christ said He was only here for some people, not all people (Matthew 10:5-6; Matthew 15:24; Acts 16:6), well, that doesn’t mean exactly what it says. Just because God said not to pray for some people (Jeremiah 7:16; Jeremiah 11:14) doesn’t mean God knew what He was talking about. Let’s not forget that Numbers 12:1 says it’s wrong to marry across the color line – nobody could mistake that for discrimination. It’s clear if you read the Bible to see what it actually says. It’s clear… that it’s important to not read the Bible if you want to remain a Christian.

  9. JohnMWhite says:

    ‘Intrinsic’ is just a fancy word for ‘I made that up just now’.

    I’m tired of dealing with these liars. I admire Tatchell’s patience, because as much as it is a positive step to even talk to the Archbishop, the guy’s obfuscation and waffling is appallingly and purposefully fruitless. Though sometimes I think the religious tie themselves in so many knots it almost makes sense. It is perfectly rational to consider standing in the way of marriage equality to not be discrimination when you think discrimination is making your congregation follow the same law as everybody else.

  10. barriejohn says:

    Trevor Blake: That’s the crux of the matter. The NT is full of admonitions to have nothing to do with people who don’t toe the party line. The Bible is quite clear about the role of women, the duties of slaves, the evils of homosexuality and other such “perversions”, etc, etc, but – surprise, surprise – as society moves on and its mores change, so do the “absolute” and “unchanging” demands of their god. “We live in a different dispensation now”; “God deals with us differently today” – not “We’ve changed our minds as to what God’s requirements are”. What a surprise, too, that what God wants of us today resembles more and more closely the sort of moral values that intelligent, rational non-theists consider acceptable. Jesus would have been a good Jew – he wouldn’t recognize any of this “progressive” teaching. They’ll change their minds about homosexuality just as they have about almost everything else, and then claim that they were in the vanguard of progress all the time. “They’re making it up as they go along!”.

  11. Matt Westwood says:

    I feel a tad uncomfortable at all the bile and vitriol being hurled the way of Archbishop Light-bulb. He’s already showing himself to be prepared to take a first step over the bridge, so to speak, and I believe he should at least be offered a modicum of respect for that. Time will tell what will happen as regards the ongoing liberalisation of the church, but I’d rather given him the benefit of the doubt at this stage.

    There’s always going to be a need for a church of some kind, to accommodate the needs of lesser intellects than ours who need to be told what to think and who are too frightened of a world without a cosy cuddly fairy story to explain its complexity. As for me, I’d rather its temporal boss was a good-humoured and relatively liberal chappie like Wellbulb than the miserable old fascists that rule the RCC. As such I believe the Anglican church, for all its current growing pains, is far more able to coexist peacefully with atheists than some of the other more lunatic insanities.

  12. Robster says:

    “Anglican primates “- Aren’t we (as in all homo sapiens) pimates? Perhaps the Anglican primates should be referred to as “Anglican primate primates?

  13. JohnMWhite says:

    @Matt Westwood: I understand why you’d want to give the Archbishop a bit of a break for at least taking a small step in the right direction, but in 2013 it really smacks of too little, too late. Particularly when he is dishonest by pretending discrimination is not discrimination. He is not stupid enough to believe that, he knows what this word means. He is sandbagging us as we try to drag him and his band of zealots into the modern world, and the reason we are trying to drag them is because the tide is rising and they are determined to drown innocent people they have chained themselves to. Too many people have suffered for too long because of liars like Welby to tolerate his dithering just because he had tea with Tatchell.

    I also disagree that there will always be a need for a church of some kind. Much of that need stems from the damage the church has done to its own members and the fear it spreads in society at large. The comforting fairy story is simply the other side of the coin that teaches humans they are deficient sinners doomed to toil and die and deserving of eternal suffering. The idea of a mortal life lacking meaning only holds up if you follow the assumption that the only way to find meaning is to obey and worship something bigger and stronger than you. What these people tend to be frightened of is monsters of their own making. Approaching the world rationally, there remains things to fear, but a human need not feel simply helpless in a hostile world unless they also assume the world is ruled by a vindictive tyrant who can and will cause them pain.

  14. T says:

    Doesn’t accept the word ‘discrimination’. Gloves off then. I don’t accept all the tax exempt, undemocratic, divinely granted permissions that this gormless fool enjoys and claims. Such arrogance is breathtaking from one who would have us believe seeks to live a humble life of service to the ‘good lord’ and his flock.

  15. tony e says:


    Agreed. I am oonvinced that the vast majority of clerics (all religions) simply do not believe the stuff they spout.

    So if a person is not clever enough to be a scientist or not willing to put themselves in danger (forces/fireman) but like a bit of power then religion has to be a good career mo

    I decided to type into the search engine two subjects which are important in the fight for common sense. I typed in ‘Evolution’ and got 64,400,000 articles. I followed this with ‘Age Of Earth’ and got 117,000,000 articles.

    Now if we take away the amount of articles that are complete rubbish that will still leave a staggering amount of information, far greater that the Library of Alexandria, available to all.

    They cannot hold onto this delusion much longer.

  16. barriejohn says:

    It seems amazing in this nuclear age, when mindblowing discoveries are being made about the origins of life and of the universe itself, that, in an advanced society like ours, a man who dresses in funny costumes and believes in superstitious mumbo-jumbo can be taken seriously. I read only this morning that a £65,000 a year general manager is to be appointed at Stonehenge, and that among his other duties is that of “liaising with druid leaders” (I am not making this up).

    I’m just going for a lie down!

  17. Matt Westwood says:

    @barriejohn: All part of the government job creation scheme.

    [Heavy political irony] Are you one of those shrill strident anti-society anarchists who don’t believe that reduction in unemployment is a good thing? Shame on you![/Heavy political irony]

  18. barriejohn says:

    I am, indeed, Matt, and while we’re talking politics, did anyone else cop the ridiculous headed notepaper that Mark Thatcher supposedly uses (scroll down for it)?

    I trust that it’s a genuine pic. The comments have not been universally flattering, though some are still bravely waving the flag!

  19. Broga says:

    @barriejohn: Have pity. Why do you do this to me? I’m talking about Mark Thatcher’s notepaper. I did a double take and hysterics soon followed. The airs and graces this ignorant oik gives himself are beyond funny. The man is a berk. And his mummy ensured that he gets his ridiculous title. What has Mark ever done apart from being mummy’s boy and messing up when he tried to take over some government.

    He has the look of a sly, vacant, spiv about him. With mummy gone Mark is about to hit the buffers. We have just seen his last hurrah because, devoid of talent or personality, he has nothing going for him. I would lay serious money that mummy Thatch had ambitions for him to marry a Princess Di type.

  20. barriejohn says:

    Broga: Some silly sausage actually congratulates Cur Mark for “turning his life around”. Eh? He was born to millionaire, middle class parents, not on some deprived sink estate! Meanwhile, more hypocrisy from Welby, MD:

    Comment: A case of kettle and pot I think. The Cof E has billions in land and property as well as 8bn investments and lectures the rest of us on greed and entitlement. They also use the loophole of being a charity to avoid tax. In fact they get more like big business very day. What’s the difference?

  21. Daz says:


    One of my Dear Old Mater’s favourite trivia-titbits she drops into conversations about the CofE. She recalls that when she was a kid, the CofE was outed as being the biggest slum-landlord in the country. Research (ie 30 sec with Google) doesn’t aid much, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all.

  22. barriejohn says:


    A new and vigorous London County Council (LCC) came into being, and its first, flagship task was the demolition of Old Nichol, and the eviction and rehousing of its inhabitants.

    The Bethnal Green vestrymen, now replaced by the London County Council, were seen to reel in disgust as they toured the fetid streets.
    The major landlords emerged from anonymity to claim compensation, the greediest of them being the Church of England’s Commissioners.
    In March 1900, seven years after the first demolitions, the Prince of Wales and Princess Alexandra processed in a carriage down a broad, tree-lined avenue, under which lay the rubble of the slum.
    Ugliness had been replaced by beauty. The only losers were the evicted inhabitants of the Old Nichol.
    Too poor to move elsewhere, they were shoved into neighbouring streets, which in turn became slums.
    For Britain’s poorest, it seemed, history was doomed to repeat itself.

  23. Lazy Susan says:

    Is it part of the job description that the archbish has to look like a twat?