Gay bishops do not pose a problem for the Church of England as long as they remain celibate, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.
Rowan Williams expressed his personal support for the consecration of gay bishops. But he added that he will never endorse gay clergy in active relationships because tradition insists on celibacy.
He said: "To put it very simply, there's no problem about a gay person who's a bishop. It's about the fact that there are traditionally, historically, standards that the clergy are expected to observe. So there's always a question about the personal life of the clergy."
In an interview with The Times, Dr Williams explained that he previously stood against homosexuality because "the cost to the Church overall was too great to be borne at that point".
The comments infuriated Peter Tatchell, the human rights campaigner, who said: "Yet again, Rowan is sitting on the fence regarding gay clergy ... I don't know how Rowan sleeps at night. Before he became Archbishop of Canterbury, he supported gay inclusion and equality.
"In his eyes, Church unity is more important than the human rights of lesbian and gay people."