Government should stop gay vicars being sacked by Church of England, says Conservative Lord Fowler

His comments come after former vicar Jeremy Pemberton was revoked of his preaching licence

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The Independent Online

The former chairman of the Conservative Party has said the government should be able to stop the Church of England from sacking vicars who have same-sex marriages.

Lord Fowler made the suggestion at the House of Lords on Wednesday, citing the case of Jeremy Pemberton, who had his licence to preach revoked after he married his partner in April.

Lord Fowler urged the government to “see if there is anything that could be done to help reconcile the difficulties”, BBC News reported.

While same-sex marriage was legalised in the UK in March of this year, they are not recognised by the Church of England.

Diocese officials told Mr Pemberton he could no longer preach in Nottinghamshire, as clergy must “model the Church’s teaching.” He was also blocked from taking up a promotion within the NHS, where he works as a chaplain.


Lord Fowler said: “Given that there are other clergymen at similar risk, will the minister as a matter of good will look at the position here and see if there is anything that could be done to help reconcile the difficulties?”

The government's women and equalities spokesperson, Lady Northover, responded by saying it was a matter for the Church of England.

“Things can evolve. It is good to see, for example, that we should soon see women bishops,” she added.

The Bishop of Sheffield, the Right Reverend Steven Croft, told the broadcaster the Church would be holding "a two-year process of structured conversations to explore the changing attitudes to human sexuality and their implications for the life of the Church and its disciplines".

The law prohibits the Church of England from performing same-sex weddings, and also allows other religious organisations to refuse to perform them.

At the time, the Church of England said its clergy should support their flock who are in same-sex marriages, but ruled that priests themselves must not enter into one. The Roman Catholic Church also officially opposes same-sex marriage.