Christians LGBT+ campaigners have protested outside Lambeth Palace to demand “an end to the discrimination against LGBT+ people” in the Church of England.
Organised by former government LGBT adviser and General Synod member Jayne Ozanne, the gathering received the support of MP Ben Bradshaw.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Rev Justin Welby made an appearance during the protest, addressing the around 40 activists present.
According to PA, he said Church institutions are “deeply divided” over the issue, adding prayers for couples in same-sex unions is the “best we can do” in the Church’s current environment.
“To get something through – to get equal marriage – would need legislation, and legislation has to carry by two-thirds in each house of Synod,” Archbishop Justin said.
On Friday, the College of Bishops announced prayers of blessings, dedication or thanksgiving for same-sex marriages or civil partnerships as their proposals to include the Christian LGBT+ community in the Church.
It was the result of a six-year internal consultation on issues of gender, identity, sexuality and marriage and are due to be debated and refined during General Synod next month.
But LGBT campaigners have criticised the proposals with some describing them as “breadcrumbs”.
Ozanne told Premier Christian News that while it was “good and brave” for the Archbishop to acknowledge the protest and listen to “our hurt and anger over being treated as second-class citizens”, she doesn’t believe “he really understands the harm that conservative church teaching causes”.
“That said I'm glad that he offered to deal with any priest who we can prove is practicing ‘conversion therapy’,” she continued.
“What saddens me most is that he made it very clear that his priority remains the unity of an institution, for which the 'cost' is LGBT+ lives. That is deeply unjust - our priority as Christians should always be to protect the most vulnerable and marginalised, which I believe here are LGBT+ people growing up in conservative churches and countries.”
A spokesperson for Lambeth Palace said: “The archbishop met with those who attended a vigil outside Lambeth Palace this evening and spoke with them about the recent proposals by the College of Bishops.
“Like all the bishops, the archbishop will continue to listen and speak to people over the coming weeks following the response that the bishops of the Church of England have collectively made to the Living in Love and Faith project.
“Meanwhile these proposals will be debated by General Synod in two weeks’ time and the archbishop looks forward to that debate.”