Gay clergyman: C of E discriminated against me

Jeremy Pemberton, the first British clergyman to enter a same-sex marriage, has told an employment tribunal that the Church of England discriminated against him.

Canon Pemberton had his licence as a priest in Southwell and Nottingham officially revoked last year because his same-sex marriage contradicts official Church guidance.

Last week, a spokesman for the Church of England (C of E) stressed that the Church’s teaching on marriage is clear and clergy cannot pick and choose which parts of Church doctrine they adhere to.

No option

The spokesman said: “The Church quite reasonably expects its clergy to honour their commitment to model and live up to the teachings of the Church.

“Clergy do not have the option of treating the teachings of the church as an à la carte menu and only modelling those with which they personally agree.”

After entering into a same-sex marriage, Canon Pemberton was told that he could no longer officiate at services in his diocese.

Model

The Rt Revd Richard Inwood quoted a C of E document which says it would “not be appropriate conduct for someone in holy orders to enter into a same sex marriage, given the need for clergy to model the Church’s teaching in their lives”.

This resulted in the withdrawal of his offer of a new post with Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. He continues to work as a hospital chaplain in Lincolnshire.

Giving evidence at last week’s employment tribunal hearing, Canon Pemberton said that “no one has the right to tell you who you can or can’t marry”.

Ruling

But when asked by the tribunal if he was going against the teachings of Christianity by marrying a man, he claimed he was not because he had entered a civil marriage.

His action against the C of E alleges that he was discriminated against under the principles of the Equality Act.

A ruling on the action being brought by Canon Pemberton against Bishop Inwood has not yet been given.

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