The Global South group of Anglican church leaders has decided that it will boycott next year’s Lambeth conference.

As many as 120 bishops will not attend unless the American part of the Anglican church repudiates its current accepting attitude towards gay clergy and relationships.

“It is their rejection of the clear teaching of the church and their continuing intransigence that have divided the church and has brought our beloved communion to the breaking point,” the Global South bishops’ committee said.

Conservative and liberal branches of the worldwide Anglican communion have been at loggerheads over the issues of homosexuality and same-sex unions ever since Gene Robinson, an openly gay man, was ordained as a bishop in the US in 2003.

A number of American Anglican congregations have decided to place themselves under the authority of bishops in Africa who are hostile to gay people in the church.

The spiritual leader of the Anglican communion, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, had asked Archbishop Akinola of Nigeria not to install American Bishop Martyn Mimms as a bishop of the Nigerian church with pastoral responsibility for the breakaway Americans, but Akinola continued to do just that.

Now Archbishop Williams faces a split church, and others are talking of schism.

In in interview with The Telegraph, the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, said that the Global South bishops had effectively expelled themselves from the church already by boycotting the conference, which is held once every ten years.

In April Archbishop Williams said he considered cancelling the conference to avoid a schism.

He then decided to exclude Bishop Robinson, but many Anglicans wrote letters of complaint to the Archbishop about the decision.

In June The Times revealed that Archbishop Williams was “exploring” whether to invite Bishop Robinson to attend but not vote at the 14th Lambeth Conference.

It will take place between 16th July and 4th August 2008 in Canterbury.

The Archbishop of Canterbury indicated last year that he did not want to discuss human sexuality issues at the conference, emphasising training matters instead.