A Message from the Convener of Affirmation Scotland
Has the Summer passed already? It was a disappointing summer if you wanted to enjoy barbecues in the garden or walks in the evening sun. I managed a cycle ride for a week accompanied by a couple of torrential down pours and much grey sky – at least the midges were kept at bay. It was heartening to know, however, that if any of the bed and breakfast or guest house owners had objected to custom from gay guests the law was on our side: we are making progress towards a society in which there is equality. At some point in the future the church will catch up. Here’s a story from south of the border which illustrates this: (taken from the website of The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement.)
Stonewall is celebrating an employment tribunal decision in favour of John Reaney, the gay man who won his discrimination claim against the Bishop of Hereford. The case was supported and funded by Stonewall.
John Reaney was interviewed by a panel of eight people for the post of Youth Officer in the Diocese of Hereford last summer. However, a unanimous decision to appoint him was blocked by the Bishop of Hereford after a meeting in which Mr Reaney was humiliatingly cross-examined by the Bishop about his private life.
Mr Reaney is set to secure substantial compensation. In its judgement, the Tribunal said: ‘The Respondents discriminated against the Claimant on the grounds of sexual orientation. The case will now be listed for a remedy hearing.’
John Reaney said: 'I'm delighted that the Bishop of Hereford has lost this case. It demonstrates to many lesbian and gay Christians working for God within the Church of England that they are entitled to fair and respectful treatment. I'm very grateful indeed to Stonewall for their support throughout this case. I’m also grateful to my solicitor Alison Downie of Bindman & Partners and barrister Sandyha Drew for all their work.'
Ben Summerskill, Stonewall Chief Executive, said: ‘This outcome is a triumph for 21st century decency over 19th century prejudice. We’re very happy for John. The tribunal has rightly made clear that the Church of England cannot discriminate against gay people with impunity. No one, not even a Bishop, is exempt from the law.’
Stonewall argued that a heterosexual person would not have been subject to the same level of intrusive questioning as Reaney.
‘The reason that Christians can practice their faith in this country alongside Muslims, and Protestants alongside Catholics, is precisely because modern Britain respects difference,’ said Ben Summerskill. ‘We hope this decision gives a clear signal to all employers about the importance of respecting lesbian and gay people in the workplace.’
It’s because of this sort of discrimination, and much
more which is covert and quiet, that AS exists. Lesbian and
gay Christians, their families and friends, need support. We
want to be able to pray out loud to our God as gay people.
We need to hear preaching that doesn’t make an issue out of
being a woman or being a lesbian. We hunger to share bread
with a neighbour in the pew who will not reject us because
of our sexuality or that of our child.
One of the most courageous and creative of Christian leaders in recent years has been Bishop Jack Spong of the Episcopal Church in the USA. He will be in Edinburgh soon:
Jack Spong Tour - Edinburgh
Thursday 18th October 2007
19:30 at St. Marks Church, Edinburgh
Cost: £10/£8 (PCN Members)
Keynote speaker: Jack Spong
More information: www.edinburgh-unitarians.org.uk
St Marks Church, 7 Castle Terrace, Edinburgh, EH1 2DP
This event has been organised by The Progressive Christianity Network (PCN) which has an interesting web-site and is certainly inclusive of lgbt persons www.pcnbritain.org.uk
And finally, at the end of the Summer I conducted my
first Blessing Ceremony for a Civil Partnership. You can see
the liturgy which I and the couple put together for the
event and which is on our website with their permission.
We’d be happy to post on this site any other similar
The Affirmation Scotland Convener posts these pieces anonymously in recognition of the fact that The Church of Scotland is not a safe place in which to be openly gay. Comments are welcome - use the e-mail contact on the contacts page.