C of E ‘did not discriminate’ against gay clergyman

The Church of England did not discriminate against a clergyman who entered into a same-sex marriage when it revoked his licence to conduct services in one diocese, an employment tribunal has ruled.

The tribunal said Canon Jeremy Pemberton had “defied” the clear doctrine of the Church when he wed his partner.

Responding to the result, the Southwell and Nottingham diocese said it was thankful for the tribunal’s work on the case, and was continuing to pray for all those involved.

Clear discipline

In April 2014, Canon Pemberton became the first Church of England clergyman to enter a same-sex marriage. At the time an evangelical group within the Church called for “clear discipline”.

In June the then Acting Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, the Rt Revd Richard Inwood, said he had spoken and written to Canon Pemberton to revoke his licence as a priest.

But Canon Pemberton went to the tribunal with a claim of harassment, and said the Church had discriminated against him.

Defied doctrine

The 58-page ruling said there was “no doubt whatsoever that the present doctrine of the church is clear”.

It stated: “The claimant would never have been in this position had he not defied the doctrine of the church.

“The claimant knowingly entered into that marriage and knew what the potential consequences could be for him.”

Thankful

Canon Pemberton’s solicitor said he and his legal team were “obviously very disappointed” by the decision, and plan to appeal.

The Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham said: “We are thankful to the tribunal for its work on this complex case and for its findings in favour of the former Acting Diocesan Bishop, the Rt Revd Richard Inwood, on all the claims made against him.

“We recognise that it has been a long and difficult process for all concerned, and we continue to hold them in our thoughts and prayers.

“Churches across the diocese continue to offer a generous welcome to people from all backgrounds.”

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