Synod Taken Over By Gay Rights Protest
Archbishop of Canterbury accused of "betrayal".
York - UK
The Archbishop of Canterbury has been accused of "betraying his own principles and betraying the gay community" by pressuring the gay canon, Jeffrey John, to resign from his appointment as Bishop of Reading.
The accusations were made at the General Synod of the Church of England, when the proceedings were taken over by protesters from the gay human rights group OutRage!, this morning, Saturday 12 July 2003, on day two of the twice yearly Anglican parliament.
"By caving in to pressure from theological homophobes, the Archbishop of Canterbury has betrayed his own principles and betrayed the gay community. He is appeasing homophobes within the Anglican Church", said protest organiser, Peter Tatchell.
"A brave man betrays his friends with a sword, a coward does it with a kiss.
"The Archbishop of Canterbury has kissed the ring of ecclesiastical bigots like the Archbishop of Nigeria. He is allowing the church's agenda to be dictated by the voices of unreason and intolerance.
"Dr Williams is colluding with Anglicans who preach a gospel of prejudice and discrimination.
The OutRage! protest was greeted by a mixture of jeers and cheers from the hundreds of Synod delegates.
The Synod chair ordered speakers and delegates to leave the hall, and switched off the microphones and lights, leaving the venue in semi-darkness.
Half the delegates walked out, but the other half stayed to listen to a passionate plea for lesbian and gay human rights by Peter Tatchell and six other OutRage! activists.
Among those who remained in the hall to hear Mr Tatchell were the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and the Archbishop of York, David Hope. They ignored repeated requests by the Synod organisers for everyone to to leave the hall. Five other Bishops, including the Bishops of Birmingham and Worcester, also stayed seated.
Taking over the Synod for 30 minutes, Mr Tatchell told the delegates:
"We are here because this Synod is refusing to discuss the persecution of Canon Jeffrey John and the broader issue of homosexual human rights. When you slam the door in our face, we have no alternative but to protest against a church that is blind to reason and deaf to compassion.
"The Anglican Communion is the moral equivalent of the Dutch Reform Church in South Africa during the apartheid era. It uses theology to justify prejudice and discrimination.
"Anglican Bishops in the House of Lords have repeatedly voted against gay equality. They abuse their privileged position to press for legal discrimination against gay people", Mr Tatchell told the delegates.
The OutRage! protesters left of their own accord after half an hour, just as police officers arrived on the scene. No one was arrested.
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