NSS probes future monarchs over gay marriage stance

Posted: Wed, 17th Aug 2022

NSS probes future monarchs over gay marriage stance

The National Secular Society has pressed the future monarchs to confirm their stance on homosexuality after the Church of England affirmed its opposition to gay sex and marriage.

The NSS wrote to the Prince Charles and the Prince William last week to ask if they agree with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby's affirmation of a Church resolution which said same sex marriage was wrong and "homosexual practices" are incompatible with scripture.

The NSS said that as future sovereigns, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge will be "oath-bound to maintain and preserve the doctrine and worship of the Church of England".

But it highlighted that Prince William has previously spoken up for the rights of LGBT people.

In 2019 the duke told an LGBT youth charity he would "fully support" his children if they were gay, but would worry about the "discrimination that might come".

The NSS asked whether the duke agreed with the Church's stance and for his message to his "future gay, lesbian and bisexual subjects".

The British monarch, as well as being head of state, also holds the title 'Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England'. Under current laws, the monarch is required to "join in communion" with the Church of England and take on the role of Supreme Governor, promoting Anglicanism in Britain.

NSS: 'Clear tension between declaring gay sex is a sin and being the established church'

Stephen Evans, chief executive of the NSS, said: "A Sovereign that seeks to act as a focus for national identity, unity and pride cannot, at the same time, be the supreme governor of an officially homophobic institution.

"There is a clear tension between the issuing of declarations that gay sex is a sin and being the established church.

"That tension should be addressed by disestablishing the Church of England and ensuring our head of state has no constitutional entanglement with religion."

The Lambeth Conference

Welby re-affirmed the resolution, known as Lambeth 1.10, during a speech at the Church's 15th Lambeth Conference earlier this month.

The Lambeth Conference is a meeting held every 10 years for Anglican bishops from around the world and is chaired by the Archbishop of Canterbury. This year the conference was attended by more than 650 bishops from 165 countries.

Lambeth 1.10 was originally declared at the 1998 Lambeth Conference.

Welby said: "For the large majority of the Anglican Communion the traditional understanding of marriage is something that is understood, accepted and without question.

"For them, to question this teaching is unthinkable, and in many countries would make the church a victim of derision, contempt and even attack."

Welby's speech has attracted widespread criticism from both within and outside the Church. Broadcaster Sandi Toksvig said in an open letter to Welby that the lives of LGBT+ people are at stake, pointing to higher rates of suicide among LGBT+ young people and the death threats she had received from evangelical Christians.

The Queen sent a message of "warm greetings" to the conference. She said: "As we all emerge from the pandemic, I know that the Conference is taking place at a time of great need for the love of God – both in word and deed."

Image: Copyright House of Lords 2022 / Photography by Annabel Moeller

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Tags: Disestablishment, Head of State, LGBT