Gay clergyman in legal fight against C of E over job row

The first British clergyman to enter a gay marriage is taking legal action against Church of England authorities because he was told he could no longer conduct services and had a chaplaincy licence declined.

Canon Jeremy Pemberton said he has been “left with little choice” over the matter as he feels he was “punished and discriminated against” for exercising his “right to marry”.

He had a same-sex wedding in April this year, which contradicts official Church of England guidance.

Appropriate conduct

The Rt Revd Richard Inwood, acting Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, told Canon Pemberton that he could no longer officiate at services in his diocese.

He said 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”.

Rt Revd Inwood also said he could not issue a licence for Canon Pemberton to be a hospital chaplain in Nottinghamshire.

Hospital chaplain

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

Canon Pemberton has now filed an Equality Act claim in the Employment Tribunal against the Archbishop of York and Rt Revd Inwood.

He said he is “deeply saddened” to take this step against the Church authorities.

Married

Canon Pemberton, a divorced father of five, had said at the time of his wedding: “I love this man and I want to be married to him. That’s what I want. It is the same as anyone who wants to get married.”

The Church of England said each diocese was responsible for its own decisions.

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