The Bible supports same sex partnerships, a senior Church of England bishop has claimed.

Reverend Richard Harries, Bishop of Oxford, has fuelled the Church’s row over gay marriage and gay clergyman by stating that traditionalists should be “converted” to see gay unions are allowed according to scriptures.

He said in a interview with the Sunday Telegraph, “It’s difficult to have gay partnerships fully accepted by the Church, a Church in which evangelicals are a valued part, if they are so strongly opposed to it.

“There has to be a conversion to a new way to see that gay partnerships are not contrary to biblical truth. They are congruous with the deepest biblical truths, about faithfulness and stability.”

Bishop Harries voiced support for openly gay clergymen after previously appointing gay canon, Jeffrey John to Bishop of Reading in 2003, before withdrawing the appointment amid controversy.

“I’d still like him to become a bishop, he has all the gifts to be a bishop, but there is still a process of discernment going on. For there to be change, evangelicals have to be convinced that a permanent, faithful same-sex partnership is congruous with biblical truth.

“I knew that it would be divisive within the diocese of Oxford, but I thought that that could be contained within two years. I hadn’t realised the effect on the Anglican Communion and the pressure put on the archbishop as a result of that.”

His remarks were quashed by Reform, an evangelical group, Reverend David Banting said: “He thinks that he has the weight of culture and the weight of the majority of the Church in the West behind him, which convinces him that he’s right.

“Same-sex partnerships are not congruous with the Bible, sexual relations outside of heterosexual marriage are not blessed by God.

“We need to be pastorally supportive of those who struggle in this area, but we shouldn’t be trying to change the teaching of the Church. No amount of calling black white will make black white.”

The House of Bishops will discuss the issue of homosexuality next week according to the paper.

Homosexuality has previously threatened to spilt the Anglican Church after the appointment of openly gay bishop Gene Robinson in New Hampshire in 2003.